Flank steak is one of the most sought after, flavorful, and highest quality cuts of meat in existence.
Anybody who is anybody knows how valuable and versatile flank steak is. Not only can it be used in its own dishes, it can also be used in all kinds of recipes that use steak as its protein.
It is truly a gourmet meat and if it isn’t very costly, it can be very difficult to come across. Nearly any fine dining eating establishment knows that they need plenty of flank steak in stock for any dish that requires it.
But if you do not have the budget or the connections to acquire flank steak whenever you please, you’ll want to seek out some cheaper substitutes that are also easier to come across.
If your budget is limited and you do not have the time or other resources to seek out flank steak, it would behoove you to seek out some sensible substitutes for flank steak.
Why is flank steak so difficult to come by and what is it used for?
The first thing you should know about flank steak is that it is cut from the fourth smallest area of the cow, with the shank, the tenderloin and the top sirloin being smaller.
Other than the bigger areas such as the rib, chuck, or round areas, the cuts from the flank are very scarce. This is one thing that makes flank steak difficult to come by. It is also much more difficult to cut from the flank as well, since it is so close to the short loin and the bottom sirloin.
What makes flank steak cost a lot is the way that it is cut. Flank steak is cut very thinly, which is a trait that is only shared by brisket. Most other cuts of steak does not need to be cut so thin. Because of this, meat markets will charge a little more money for it.
A lot of cuts of meat are used in a lot of dishes. Listing all of them is not necessary for the purposes of this discussion, but it is necessary to list what kinds of dishes involve flank steak.
Any form of Asian cuisine will use flank steak in any of their dishes that use beef in the recipe. If you have ever ordered any given asian dish that includes beef, what they call “beef” is actually flank steak.
Have you ever ordered anything that includes “skirt steak?” Skirt steak is also very much the same as flank steak, it is just a different name.
Flank steak is used in a lot of tex-mex dishes such as fajitas, quesadillas, and other dishes that originate from the southwest. As mentioned earlier, the area of the cow combined with how the flank is cut makes flank steak very costly and difficult to come by.
Fortunately, there do exist substitutes for flank steak that are easier to find and are less costly.
Is skirt steak actually the same as flank steak?
Earlier, it was mentioned that there is no difference between skirt steak and flank steak.
While they may look similar, skirt steak is a little bit different.
Right next to the flank is the brisket. Different than flank, brisket is boneless and can still be just as flavorful as flank steak. Brisket is where skirt steak comes from, and the only thing that makes it different from flank steak is that it is cut a little thinner and longer than flank steak.
What makes people believe that flank steak is the same as skirt steak is that they both have similar tastes because the flank is located right next to the brisket.
Although skirt steak is not the same as flank steak, it does qualify as a substitute for flank steak for the simple fact that they have similar flavors and textures.
If flank steak is not available, try hanger steak
Another area of a cow that is located next to the flank is the lower rib. Hanger steak is cut at the last rib that connects to the diaphragm and the kidney.
Hanger steak is similar in flavor to flank steak and for that reason it is also a good substitute. The flavors are similar because the location where hanger steak is cut from is still near the flank.
The only issue with hanger steak is that it is similar to flank steak in that it can be costly and difficult to find. You will not be able to find hanger steak at any supermarket. Like with flank steak, you’ll need to look for hanger steak in a meat market or a butcher.
That said, if you do go to a meat market for your meat and they do not happen to have flank steak, you will be just as well off picking up hanger steak.
Tri-Tip roast, Newport, and Santa Maria steaks are all good substitutes
Fat content is a major issue when it comes to selecting proper substitutes for flank steak.
Because of how thin flank steak is, it will not contain a lot of fat. This is a very useful thing to understand when it comes to detecting what a substitute for flank steak is.
Tri-tip roast is a good substitute for flank steak because the cut is just as lean as flank steak is, meaning it does not contain a lot of fat.
If you happen to come across Newport or Santa Maria steak, they have the same properties as flank steak. So if you happen to come across those two and are looking for a substitute for flank steak, feel free to purchase those.
One thing that you need to keep in mind when cooking flank steak or any of its substitutes is that you need to know what you are doing. Because these cuts are thin in nature, they can get very tough if overcooked. But they cannot be undercooked like some of the bigger cuts of steak can.
If you are not used to cooking steak medium or medium well, you’ll need to learn how to do this before cooking with flank steak or any of the substitutes that have been mentioned here.
Do not be discouraged if you cannot find flank steak in your local grocery store or meat market. There are plenty of substitutes for it.