Steak is meat that can go well in a variety of different dishes. It’s tasty, versatile and compliments a range of flavors. The only thing you have to worry about is picking the right cut of meat. There’s so many different types of steak to choose from, from ribeye, filet mignon, sirloin, flank steak, skirt steak, tenderloin, strip…you name it!
One of the two more popular cuts for home cooked meals are flank steak and skirt steak, so what is the real difference between them, and what can you use them for? Let’s find out! But first, what exactly is flank steak?
What Is Flank Steak?
In the most basic sense, flank steak is a boneless, skinless cut of beef, that cooks quickly, and is used in a range of dishes. Flank steak may also be referred to as London Broil, as it is often used for broiling or stewing on a low heat.
Flank steak comes from under the loin and is close to the abdominal area. As these muscles are used and worked often by the cow, this part of the animal tends to be very tough, lean, strong and chewy.
However, when cooked slowly or for a short period, it can be very flavorful and tasty, because this can give it enough time for the muscle fibers to melt and become soft and tender.
Flank steak also has a stronger beefy flavor than other cuts of meat, but is often marinated to make it juicier, and is best served sliced up against the grain for extra tender strips of beef in your meals.
What Is Skirt Steak?
In comparison, skirt steak is a cut of beef that comes from just below the rib. You can get inside and outside skirt, but both are generally very thin cuts of steak that are also prone to being tougher and leaner than others, much like the flank steak.
A skirt steak is taken from the diaphragm of the cow, near the abdominal where the flank comes from, however, it is a different cut of meat. That being said, it is also a tough, long cut of steak much like flank steak.
Skirt steak also has a lot of tough muscle fibers that need a long time to melt in order for the steak to become soft, so this is a cut that also does well when cooked low and slowly.
It is best seared or grilled to the point where it is rare or medium rare, as any more than this will make it too tough and chewy to enjoy. This is why skirt steak is most often used in stir fry dishes or as fajita and taco filler.
Is Flank Steak The Same As Skirt Steak?
What you may find is that many people confuse flank steak with skirt steak, or use the terms interchangeably with one another. To be fair, the two cuts of steak are very similar, so it’s understandable that so many people think that they’re the same thing.
For instance, flank steak and skirt steak are both very lean, tough and long cuts of meat, and so they should always be cut against the grain when cooked as this can make it more tender rather than chewy.
As they are both very lean and generally quite tough, they are often used for the same sorts of dishes. You will find that recipes such as steak fajitas, tacos, salads or broiling recipes call for either flank steak or skirt steak as these cuts do well in those recipes.
This is largely because they can do well with grilling or searing, as they only need a short time to cook so that it does not become too tough. Whether you’re cooking flank steak or skirt steak, you should never cook the steak to more than medium rare or rare as it will become too tough and chewy to eat or enjoy.
Whilst the two are very similar in nature, they are not the same thing, as they come from different parts of the cow. For instance, a skirt steak is a thin cut of meat from the diaphragm area of the cow, whereas the flank tends to come from under the loin of the cow, at the ‘flank’.
In addition, a flank steak is generally a little wider and thicker than the skirt, even though they are both still very thin, lean cuts of meat. However, they both have similar, very beefy flavors that can be rather intense.
Skirt steak also has a higher fat content as it has more marbling going through it, whereas flank steak is slightly leaner than skirt steak.
Can You Substitute Skirt Steak For Flank Steak?
As the two cuts of meat are very similar, and used for similar purposes, you can substitute one for the other if you need to. However, you just have to be considerate of the size difference in the steaks, as the thinner steaks such as skirt steak can cook much quicker than a flank steak.
Flank is slightly leaner than skirt steak too, and does not have as intense a flavor, so keep that in mind when using it for your recipes instead of skirt steak.
To summarize, flank steak and skirt steak are often confused for one another, and many people think that they are the same thing. However, flank steak and skirt steak actually come from different parts of the cow, and are different cuts of beef.
Whilst they are both lean, long tougher cuts of meat, skirt steak tends to be fattier, with more marbling and flavor, whereas flank steak is slightly leaner and with less fat.
That being said, due to the nature of these pieces of steak, and their similar characteristics, you can use them for the same or similar recipes if you need to.
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