What is sirloin?
This well-flavoured steak needs to be cooked carefully, and rested properly to ensure it is not chewy. Cut from the large back muscle attached to the spine, opposite the long thin fillet steak, it has a bigger, beefier flavour than fillet or rib-eye steaks, meaning it is more suitable for highly flavoured sauces, including those with onion or a small amount of chilli.
See our simple sirloin steak recipe.
How to cook sirloin
Most cooking details on pre-packed steaks suggest wildly exaggerated cooking times. Provided the steak is at room temperature, the pan is properly heated and the steak is about 2cms or more thick, two to three minutes each side and a resting time of at least three minutes should produce excellent results.
It’s often suggested that steaks should be lightly coated with olive or other oils before cooking but this tends to create unwanted smoke; using a heavy, non-stick pan is a better plan but an ordinary pan at high temperature is unlikely to stick. Seasoning is best added after cooking, while the steak is resting.
It is very important to keep the cooking temperature high; too low a temperature encourages moisture to escape, which means the steak will stew and toughen. Equally important is NOT to turn the steak constantly which makes timing impossible to calculate – once is enough. Avoid pressing down on a steak as this expresses moisture.
Resting time is as important as cooking time, as this allows the juices brought to the surface by the high cooking heat to sink back into the flesh, which also relaxes and becomes more tender.
See our sirloin recipes for more ideas.
Where to buy sirloin
Fresh and frozen steaks are available year round from butchers and supermarkets, and from specialist web-based retailers.
Choose the best sirloin
Unquestionably, beef steaks are more tender and most delicious when the carcass has been well aged under controlled conditions. Three weeks, 21 days, is an accepted minimum but developing techniques have extended this to well over 30 days. Ageing meat in caves made from blocks of Himalayan salt, which appears to control unwanted bacterial action, gives extended ageing time. Look for ageing information on labels and expect to pay more for maturer steaks.
The best beef will have a definite dark red colour, indicating it is the more likely to have been nicely aged. Beef that is pale and pinkish is usually too little aged and thus likely to be tough and lacking in flavour; this is specially true for steak cuts. The fat on steak should be firm and creamy-white rather than yellow. Sirloin steak is very much better for being well-aged and if there is a clear marbling of fat throughout the flesh.