Meat Cuts by the Numbers

Meat in Israel is a long-standing source of frustration for new olim, especially those from North America. It’s as if cows in America are somehow built with different parts, and trying to find the right piece of meat for your recipe becomes more confusing than it should be. Couple that with the now-permitted hindquarter meats, and you more than double the number of cuts available that people may never have seen or heard of before. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they number the meat like you’re in kindergarten, making you feel that much more stupid.

Enough is enough. I present my definitive guide to buying meat in Israel.

Why the Confusion?

The US, the UK, France, the Dutch, the Koreans and the Australians all have different ways to cut meat. The difference in numbers of cuts alone is staggering. A typical American beef has about 30 different cuts of meat. Koreans have 125 different cuts from the same animal. You’ve heard the phrase “It all depends on how you slice it”? Well, it’s true.

Israel for the most part likes to follow French cuisine styles. I suppose it makes them feel more fancy. That’s why ribsteak is called “entrecôte” (lit. ‘between the rib’) more frequently than it’s called “steak ayin” or ribeye. But it’s the same cut of meat. For the most part, beef is butchered in the French style in Israel, so people familiar with US cuts won’t see things like a square cut chuck roast. That’s also changing, thanks to American style butchers and frozen beef products now coming on the market.

The Chart

Israel Number
Hebrew Name
English Name
Primal
Cooking Method
Image
#1Entrecote, Steak Ayin, Vered HaTzela


The Steak
Rib, RibeyeRibGrill, roast, stovetop
#2Tzlaot, Rifaan

Preparing and Cooking A #2 Chuck Roast
Chuck RoastChuckBraising, long cooking
#3Chazeh

Preparing and Cooking a #3 Brisket
BrisketBrisketSlow cooking, stewing, curing
#4Katef Mercazi

Preparing and Cooking A #4 Shoulder Roast
Silver Tip RoastForeshankPot roast, roast beef (US deli)
#5Tzli Katef


Preparing and Cooking a #5 Minute Steak Roast
Minute Steak RoastForeshankQuick roast, grill, stovetopThe Finished Roast
#6Fillet Medumeh

Preparing and Cooking a #6 Petit Tender
Petit TenderForeshankGrilling, stovetop, quick roast
#7Michaseh HaTzlah

Preparing and Cooking a #7 Chuck Cover
Chuck CoverForeshankGrilling, stovetop
#8Shrir Kidmi

Preparing and Cooking a #8 Shank
Shin, ShankForeshankSlow cooking, braising, stewing
#9Asado, Kashtit

Preparing and Cooking A #9 Asado (Boneless)
London Broil
Short Ribs, PlateRib PlateGrilling, braising
#10TzavarNeck ClodChuckGrinding, slow cooking, stewing
#11Sinta, MotenSirloinShort loinGrilling, stovetop, quick roastPreparing and Cooking a No 11 Sinta
#12FilletTenderloinShort loinGrill, stovetop, roast
#13Shaitel, Kanaf HaoketzRumpSirloinGrill, stovetop
#14Katchkah, OzitTop SirloinSirloinGrill, stovetop
#15YarchaThick FlankRoundRoast
#16KafTopsideRoundRoast
#17Pladah, KislayimFlank SteakFlankGrill, stovetop, braised
#18Shrir AchoriShankRoundSlow cooking, braising, stewing
#19Rosh HaYerech (Yarcha)SilversideRoundGrill, stovetop
Basar RoshBeef CheeksMuscleCuring, stovetop, braising
LashonTongueOrganBraising, long cooking
CavedLiverOrganflame broiled
KivahTripeOrganstew, soup
MochBrainsOrganSaute, fry, braise
ShkeidimSweetbreadsOrganSaute, fry
RayotLungsOrganBraising, long cooking
KalayotKidneysOrganBraising, long cooking
Ma’ayimIntestinesOrganStuffing, sausage making
LavlavPancreasOrganSaute, fry
AshchimTesticlesOrganSaute, fry
SarefetHanger SteakMusclegrill, stovetop
Steak ChatzaitSkirt SteakMuscleQuick cooking, grill
Zanav ShorOxtailMusclebraising, soup
GidimBeef TendonsOrganStew, braising

40 thoughts on “Meat Cuts by the Numbers

    • London Broil is actually a cooking method, not a cut of meat, and it typically is made from flank steak, which is not available kosher in the United States. A kosher London Broil might be made from a chuck cover, which is a #7, or a ribeye lip, which isn’t really practical in this country. A #5 tzli katef is known as a minute steak roast in the US. It is a large, round piece of shoulder (‘katef’=shoulder) with a thick piece of gristle in the middle. A London Broil cut is flat for quick broiling and usually has a grain.

  1. Wow, this is really amazing. I’ve been here for 11 years and meat still frustrates me. I feel like you just have to braise everything.

    The question that most bothers me is why it’s so hard to find a shoulder roast like America. I know you wrote above that the 4 is a US style shoulder, but I was always told to braise it.

    The best “roast” I’ve been able to consistently make is entrecote. They look at me like I’m crazy when I ask for a whole “gush” of entrecote (why don’t I want steaks?)

    Also, if I want to order a whole rack of ribs, what would I ask for?

    Also, at the supermarket, why is everything cut up into little pieces and wrapped in plastic

    • A #4 is comprable to a Silver Rip roast in America, but they over-clean it here. They’re also smaller, but that has to do with the size of the beef more than the butchering.

      This is the cut of meat you want if you’re looking to make a proper deli roast beef. We have mercazi for Shabbat and it comes out browned on the outside and pink on the inside.

      I have to answer your last question before I answer your third question. There are two reasons why everything is vacuum-packed. The first is that the majority of meat that we get in Israel comes from South America, namely Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. It’s slaughtered, soaked, salted, packaged, frozen and shipped. Since there is a limited amount of space in a freezer container, they have to maximize the space they have. Things like bones and fat are eliminated from shipping, because they take up too much space. The second reason is that Israel law allows meat to be sold with up to an additonal 10% injected water weight, so they package it to keep the water in the meat.

      Assado is a cut from the beef rib plate that comes with beef spareribs. A rack of ribs isn’t a common product in Israel, but I have seen whole beef rib racks in Machane Yehuda. “Tzlaot” are ribs in Hebrew, so try asking for “Aztmei Tzlaot Bakar Shalem” or “Whole Beef Rib Bones.” Tzlaot Taleh (rack of lamb) is much more common here.

      I identified #2 as “Tzlaot”, but that’s because of what they call it, not what I would call it. It’s meat that comes from the shoulder clod that is often cut into smaller pieces. This is braising meat, not roasting meat (though I admit I never tried), and would be good for Boneless Beef Spareribs.

  2. Wow! This is awesome!

    I am a novice griller and enjoy good meat (and a good challenge). I recently purchased a gas grill. Whenever I go to the butcher and ask for something for my “mangal” they just recommend the entrecote… I feel like I want to try something new… Any ideas of a good place to start? Happy to make a roast/steak… something tasty :-)

    Thanks again!

    • You can use a #5 tzli katef cut down into minute steaks about a 1/2″ thick. But they’re called minute steaks for a reason, so keep your eye on them. Some people don’t like the thick fibrous piece of gristle in the middle.

      A #6 fileh medumeh can be grilled whole, but it will be a little tricky because of it’s shape. The thin end will cook much faster than the wide end.

      The non-rib pieces of a #9 assado will grill nicely.

      A #7 michaseh hatzlah is supposed to be able to grill well also, but they’re a little hard to find, and I can’t say that I’ve tried it myself.

  3. Mo, mazel tov on your new purchase! What I really love to grill is turkey schwarma pounded out into “steaks” marinated or slathered with sauce. Also pargiot are great to grill as well, also pounded out a little (pargiot are really just deboned chicken thighs, not baby chickens). I find I’ve had more success with grilling poultry than meat in this country.

    Thanks for your answers Marc. I knew about the water injection and I avoid it like the plague. I’ve had more success finding “natural” waterless frozen beef lately. I also buy more from the fresh meat counter (which is actually what I was asking about- why is every thing behind the fresh meat counter always cut into tiny pieces and wrapped in plastic?). One thing to know about frozen meat is that you can usually take a large hunk and ask them to cut it in half with a buzz saw at the counter, if you’re leery of cooking huge chunks of meat.

    • Pargit are spring chickens.
      Pargiyot are deboned thighs.

      The meat behind the counter is portioned.. Most people don’t/can’t buy an entire piece of meat. Break a whole entrecote into three roasts, and you’re more likely to sell it to three customers. And you can charge more for further processing. I can take a #6 and cut and shape it into medallions and add 30% to the price.

  4. Pargiot, as far as I know, ar deboned drumsticks, not breasts.

    What about “tchol”?

    • You are absolutely right. It’s thighs and legs.. I have no idea what I was thinking while I was typing. I corrected it.

  5. Shalom. I am Argentinian and I was looking for the equivalent of Thin Flank (Vacío). I see Flank Steak and Thick Flank but not Thin Flank (2200). It comes with a layer of fat on top. Any help?

  6. Shalom. I am Argentinian and I was looking for the equivalent of Thin Flank (Vacío). I see Flank Steak and Thick Flank but not Thin Flank (2200). It comes with a layer of fat on top. Any help?

  7. If only I could get all these cuts of beef kosher in Australia – Aaaaaay!

  8. I just bought "katef meyushan el gaucho" on sale at shufersal. I see on this list two 'katef' cuts – any idea how I can tell which mine is, so I know how best to cook it? Thanks!

  9. Katef is "shoulder" and #4 (mercaz) and #5 (tzli) come from the same part of the beef, on opposite sides of a bone.

    The more likely ingredient you bought is a #5 minute steak roast, also called an oyster/blade roast. It's from the upper foreleg. It's probably as thick as your fist at one end and as thin as a couple of fingers at the other, it's about as long as your forearm and on one side of the thick end there's a thick knob of white gristle. I'm in the middle of finishing up that post. Stay tuned!

    OR…

    You bought a silver tip roast. I already have a post on that. It's more conical in shape, much larger in diameter and much shorter in length. Or they did what they do here, which is chop up an overlarge #4 into chunks, which really annoys me.

    The "el gaucho" part refers either to its Argentinian source or its branded by the restaurant of the same name. And since the restaurant is Argentinian grill, and you can grill a #5 but you can't grill a #4 without serious marinading, I'm inclined to say it's a #5.

    Post me a pic if you're not convinced.

  10. I've never come across that term. Google translate thinks it's Norwegian for "displayable" but I don't think that's it.

    Can you give us a few more hints? Where did you come across the term?

  11. Is there a skirt steak equivalent here in Israel? Thanks for all the great posts on meat – they are really helpful!

  12. this is an amazing article! sorry if it's been asked before but where does the London Broil cut come from?

  13. Skirt steak is hard to find in this country; I've *never* seen them frozen. Your best bet is to get in tight with your local butcher and beg him. Expect to pay a premium price for it too.

  14. Marc Gottlieb bs'd Thank you so much for this chart. It is a life saver. We used to get a cut in the US called a tri-tip roast. It was unbelievable. Is there an equivalent ?

    • Chances are it wasn’t a real tri-tip, because that comes from the loin, which isn’t butchered kosher in the US. If I had to take a wild guess, you were being sold a #4, which is roughly triangular, and is known as silver tip roast.

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