How To Cook Flank Steak Or Kamto

You probably have been cooking it and didn't know!

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Do you know what kind of beef cut you are using when you make beef morcon for Christmas? How about when you look for beef strips for when you are making beef with broccoli stir-fried dish, a creamy beef stroganoff, or a beef tapa? 

All three of these dishes use a beef cut that might not be as common as you think in recipes. This beef cut is commonly more known by its Tagalog term: kamto. 

According to "Kulinarya, A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine", the beef cut "kamto" is the flank. This is sometimes part of the sirloin but there is connective tissue that separates it from that beef cut. This is located on the underside of the cow past the ribs and is the fleshy part of the stomach or abdominal area, just in front of the hind leg. 

Also spelled "camto", the kamto looks like a flat, triangular piece of meat. It's actually very lean with little to no fat when trimmed properly and is a smooth beef cut with the large grains of the meat running in one direction. 

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This beef cut is known as kamto or the flank.
Photo by Wikipedia Commons
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It's fantastic as a steak and is the beef cut of choice in the Tex-Mex dish fajitas. Fajitas is a quick-cooking dish, almost like the stir fry of West, and it's a great cut for this type of cooking. That's because the flank is so lean and has such long strands of muscle that it's a tough beef cut. Quick-cooking is the best way to cook this beef cut without waiting hours of cooking to tenderize it. 

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If you too want to make a fast-cooking beef dish that is beefy, tasty, and easy to cook, you can look no further than the kamto. In fact, any dish that calls for sirloin that is in strips, thinly sliced pieces, or even left whole but marinated and cooked for a short time, you can swap in the kamto for it. 

Here are tips and tricks to cooking the beef kamto or flank steak so that you end up with tasty and tender beef dishes every time: 

Use marinades as a meat tenderizer as a flavor enhancer.
Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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1 Use an acid or ingredients with tenderizing enzymes. 

Remember that marinades are not just for flavor but it's also for tenderizing. The most common and well-known marinade ingredient to help tenderize tough cuts of meat is an acid ingredient. This includes vinegar, calamansi juice, and even soda (soft drinks) with citric acid that is the main ingredient in citrus juices.

Other ingredients include those with enzymes that break down proteins. Did you know that apart from pineapples and papaya, ginger is another ingredient that has this enzyme, too? So, if you use marinades with ginger, you're actually trying to tenderize the meat in addition to adding flavor to it! 

In case you need, want, or are just plain curious know what other ingredients to use in tenderizing meat, here is a list of other ingredients with naturally-occurring meat-tenderizing enzymes: 

  • ‚ÄĘ ginger
  • ‚ÄĘ tea¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ coffee¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ cola and other sodas
  • ‚ÄĘ pineapple
  • ‚ÄĘ pawpaw
  • ‚ÄĘ papaya¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ figs
  • ‚ÄĘ kiwi
  • ‚Äʬ†baking soda¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ vinegar¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ beer and wine¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ buttermilk and¬†yogurt¬†
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You can use any of these ingredients to help your meat become more tender when you use these in a flavorful marinade! 

Cook beef flank steak like it's a stir-fried dish.
Photo by Shutterstock

2 Cook like it's a stir fry. 

Stir-fries are so fast to cook despite the long list of ingredients. That's all because everything is a fast-cooking ingredient. Each ingredient is meant to be cooked quickly and at the highest heat so that as soon as it hits the wok or your hot pan, it starts to sizzle and cook upon contact. 

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This makes it super easy to cook the beef flank steak, especially if you're in a hurry. If you cook the strips of beef as if you're stir-frying every time, the beef will cook quickly, the dish will be ready in minutes, and you'll be eating quicker, too. 

However if you go beyond and end up with tough beef, braise it like you would a morcon so that the beef will be tender again. 

This is how to slice meat so that your meat will be tender to the bite.
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3 Slice it thinly and against the grain. 

There are two ways to cut meat, whether it's still raw or already cooked, that you should keep in mind when you are preparing a dish. It's especially important for beef flank steak because it is tougher than other beef cuts. 

Whether raw or cooked, the beef flank steak is best when sliced against the grain. Remember that when you do, you are making the strands of meat shorter. The shorter the grain is or the strands of muscles are, the more tender the meat cut will be and the less chewing you will need to do. 

If you do both, slice thinly and against the grain, you are making those same strands even shorter since the thin slices are going to be even shorter. While slicing against the grain makes the meat more tender, thin slices guarantee it. 

Keep all these tips in mind when you are cooking beef kamto on the stove, grill, or in a hot pot, and you will not suffer a tough cut of beef ever again. 

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