We always see a lot of Striploin steaks around Trinidad at great prices, but upon closer inspection, they turn out to be ‘vein steaks’. Most people have no idea there is a difference. In order to ensure you get the nice steak you expect, it’s important to differentiate. So what is a vein steak?
A vein steak is from the same primal cut as the Striploin steak, however, it comes from the hip end of the loin. So, same loin just a different ‘area’. Because of the location, vein steaks have one or more connective tissues running throughout the steak, usually down the middle. This tissue is tough and does not break down when cooked, so it’s chewy. In some steaks, this can be a substantial portion of the steak giving you quite a bit of wastage. It is considered a ‘off cut’ to a lot of steak lovers because of this and many restaurants/hotels/retail outlets do not buy these steaks. Producers have a demand for true strips (the other end of the loin) so they have to move these steaks somehow….
This is why they are usually readily available for a very low price from most packers and producers. The steak is not as nice, and therefore, less people want that specific cut of steak. The only problem is that most retailers here in TT do not specify that the “Striploin Steak” you are buying is actually a “Vein Steak”. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to tell the difference. Most Strip Steaks should have one side of fat on a single side of the steak. The rest should look like a relatively consistent piece of meat. If you see several lines running through the steak from end-to-end, these are the connective tissues and most likely a Vein Steak. Above is a picture of a 8oz Vein Steak from major retailer in Trinidad that is labeled as a Strip Steak.
So next time you are at your favorite large retail grocer, do yourself a favor and turn around that ‘NY STRIP STEAK’ and see how it looks.