Why do some people like steaks cooked more on the rare side than the done side?

I tend to like my steaks medium rare to medium, depending on the venue. I think it has to do with flavor, mouth feel, tenderness, and juiciness. The short answer seems to be that it tastes better to some people. Could there be another, more primal, reason for this? A taste for blood perhaps?

Some people like theirs well done. IMO, that defeats the purpose of having a steak. One can get well done meat in burgers, roasts, meatloaves, and briskets that are cooked to the point of being well done.

I guess a secondary question could be “Why do people like their steaks well done”. Personal taste is, by definition, subjective. I’m looking for something scientific that might explain a proclivity towards meat that is cooked to a lesser degree, and greater degree in regards to the second question.

I’m fairly certain there’s hardly any blood left in the meat itself after the butchering process, so I’d rule taste of blood out.

Ok, what would one call the red juices that come out of a rare steak? Meat juice?

Yes. Cells contain lots of water, as does the space between cells. Just because it’s red/pink, doesn’t mean it’s blood.

It isn’t the blood in meat that we crave it’s the fat.


Then what is it? Liquefied muscular tissue?

If that were the case, wouldn’t people choose the fattiest cuts? That’s simply not the case. The highest priced cut in a steak house is a loin filet, sometimes called a filet, or a filet mignon. There is little marbling if any there.

I concur that fat adds flavor. Marbling is a key factor to choosing a good steak. I’m not talking about fat though, I’m talking about doneness.

I don’t know, but it isn’t blood. I’ve gotten cuts of meat (the last one I remember was a flank steak) that had a vein with blood in it. I was slicing the meat and you definately know blood when you see it–it’s thick and bright red, not meat red.

I’ve read that there’s actually a socioeconomic indicator for rare v. well done. Poorer people usually can’t afford the better cuts of beef and thus what they eat tastes better well done, while richer people who can afford the better cuts prefer rare as the better cuts have richer taste with pink and red. Of course there are plenty of poorer people who like rare and plenty of wealthy people who like it cremated, but tis a theory.

To get the GQ part of this thread out of the way, the “red juices” likely are serum, liquid cell contents and extracellular fluid that at least partially gets its color from red blood cells lysed via handling and cooking.

And you could get burgers and various other meats served rare as well (lots of restaurants serve burgers cooked to order).

Whether you want meat rare or cooked to a greater degree is a matter of preference, and I’m unaware of any studies linking such preference to primitive urges or size of one’s limbic cortex.

To address the IMHO aspects - the taste of a steak to me depends on few factors, one of the least important of which is how long it’s cooked (as long as it’s not being broiled to a cinder). I have some prejudice against raw/barely cooked meats over health aspects (I probably have studied too much parasitology), but that’s not a big risk these days.

At some point in the history of cuisine, a snob appeal began to attach itself to the consumption of rare steaks, much like the preference for certain spices (or spiciness in general), “dry” martinis and wines etc.

It’d be nice if people could get over this. Liking rare steaks does not make you special, just different from people who like medium or well done steaks.

I doubt if you’re going to get a purely scientific explanation on this because preference for certain flavors is hugely subjective. I like my steaks rare - seared crusty on the outside, purplish and almost cool at the center. Cook a dry-aged filet like that with a little burgundy sauce and a glass of Cabernet and damn! It’s a party on your tongue. Now I’m one of those goombahs who, when I cut myself, almost automatically sticks my finger in my mouth. (I know, I know - the worst place to put it) I know what blood tastes like and like a rare steak, it ain’t. Salty, unpleasant, I don’t know how vampires stand it.

Not in California, where it is against the law to server burgers cooked less than medium, I think. Even if you order it that way.

Bourdain and others claim that restaurants serve lower quality meats to those who order steaks well done, which leads me to believe that you lose enough of the flavor by cooking it too much. Certainly if I overcook a steak on the grill, I feel it has less flavor and not as good a texture. Some people seem to have a bad reaction to “blood” and therefore order steaks cooked to be as non-red as possible. Does anyone who likes it this way think it tastes better?

I ordered a burger medium rare in Indiana, and was told it was “illegal”. A wink and a nod got me the best burger I have ever had in my life. The band I was playing in made it a point to sing the praises of the cook. The next time we went there, we all knew what to get.

Maybe you could save this for a thread in which people a) expressed a taste for rare steaks, or b) insinuated that such a taste made them special. Perhaps you could get over it.

I think that a good steak tastes better when it’s cooked rare to medium rare. I prefer rare steak, but my teeth can’t handle it, so generally I get medium rare or medium.

Most of the colour comes from myoglobon. IOW it’s red because the meat itself is red. It’s actually pretty simple to confirm this by noting that the juices from chicken breast or even pork have only the very palest pink colour and look nothing like the juices from red meat. If blood were the primary culprit then all meat juices would be equally red in colour since blood colour doesn’t vary between species.

Hmm, I dunno.

I contend that Jackmannii brings up a point, there are snobs in relation to prepared food that exist. Especially the 911 hot wing group of people. Not all, but some actually think that if you can’t hack it, you’re not man enough. I don’t doubt that this occurs in the rare steak world in the slightest, people may be actually giving in to that rare steak to impress the boss so as not to be thought of as unmanly, or a “picky eater” in front of colleages and big shots. So yeah, I think Jackmannii’s view tilts just a little bit into the interest of this thread, as part of the scientific analysis of why, might just be competition. Which falls in line with your questioning of primal (although you were talking about blood, competition could be a primal reason for why too).

I think the colour of a rare steak puts many off, it looks raw.

I know that was what put me off for years. I was always a WELL DONE type (not the slightest hint of red type) if it was pink it had to re-visit the BBQ or pan.

Accidently I cooked steak for me and the child, it looked a good colour on the outside but when I cut into it it was VERY pink…OOPS. I was tired and thought “bugger it if other people can do rare then so can we!”, it was the best steak I have ever eaten!

Rare steak is moist, tasty and tender but unless you get over the “ewwwww it looks raw” moment you will probably never try it.

No critisicm for people who don’t fancy the “just killed” look but seriously you never ate steak till you ate it rare. No snobbery just a lazy nights discovery!

Biting into a soft, juicy, pink piece of meat is far preferable to biting into a black hard piece of charcoal. The more cooked the meat is, the less flavor there is remaining.

It’s a personal preference, but I think pretty much an acquired one (as opposed to, say, a preference for chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream, where most people just like one or the other without really having tried to).

And it’s a preference that for many people requires overcoming an initial sense of reluctance - because it is quite a lot like eating raw meat, to which in the western cultures we’re talking about, there’s a fair bit of aversion.

In my own case, I started out ordering rarer and rarer steaks pretty much out of the bravado factor (I make no apology - I was a teenager) - but I very quickly discovered that I just like it much better that way - from my perspective, it’s not so much a preference as a way of getting something that seems measurably better in quality (I do realise that is what a preference is though, and that it’s subjective).