Why You May Want To Avoid Touching Your Steak While Searing

tongs touching steak
tongs touching steak - Briagin/Getty Images

You might have heard that you can tell a steak's doneness by pressing on it with your finger. Soft and squishy means it's still pretty rare, while firm to the touch indicates a medium-well to well-done finish. But besides the fact that this method has been shown to be pretty unreliable, you may want to avoid touching your steak while searing it for a few other reasons.

The key reason you want to avoid touching your steak while it sizzles in the pan is because moving it at all–-even minimally by pressing down on it or shifting it slightly--can interfere with the development of a flavorful crust. It's crucial to let the steak sear undisturbed so it can properly undergo the Maillard reaction, a series of complex chemical dominoes involving the amino acids and sugars present in the meat that's responsible for the formation of that yummy brown crust.

Handling the steak excessively with your fingers or tongs can also lead to some of the juices seeping out. Resist the temptation to touch and you'll be rewarded with a super juicy final product.

Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling

Hands Off!

Tongs squeezing seared steak
Tongs squeezing seared steak - Shcherbak Volodymyr/Getty Images

In fact, "hands off" is a mantra that isn't just reserved for the searing stage. It's equally, if not more, important once you remove the steak from the heat. Take it from Anthony Bourdain, who offered a more colorful version of the "no touching" advice for home cooks making steak. Once the steak is cooked, it is absolutely mandatory that it rests on a cutting board at room temperature for five to seven minutes, Bourdain explained. Do not cover it, do not prod or poke it, and do not cut into it to sneak a peek.

During the cooking process, the heat causes the juices to move towards the surface of the steak. Resting allows them to reabsorb back into the meat and evenly distribute, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak. It also allows the internal temperature of the steak to stabilize, which helps to ensure that it is cooked evenly throughout, as indicated by a radiating pink hue.

Other Tips For A+ Steak

bone-in steak on cutting board
bone-in steak on cutting board - Victority/Getty Images

No touching is a great rule of thumb (get it?) to follow during and after cooking, but a perfectly done steak really starts with its preparation. Allow the steak to come to room temperature for at least 20 minutes before you begin cooking. This trick ensures more even cooking throughout.

You also want to remove as much moisture as possible from the surface of the meat prior to searing. Use paper towels to pat down each side to draw out any fluid. This will help with the development of that flavorful brown crust.

Contrary to popular belief, it's actually best not to salt the steak before cooking. Salt draws out moisture from the meat, making searing exceedingly difficult and resulting in a less juicy steak. Instead, season one side of the steak generously with salt and pepper as the first side sears. This allows you to get some seasoning on the steak while also allowing it to retain its natural juices.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.