Q&A: What is a Skirt Steak Called in Israel?

Is what we call “skirt steak” called נתח קצבים here? I tried to use סטייק חצאית with my butcher (at the shuk in Netanya) and he was clueless, but when I described the cut to him he said, “Oh, you mean נתח קצבים.” Do I?

In a word: no. But, like everything else here, it can get confusing real quick. Let’s unravel the mystery.

Warning: some anatomy discussion to follow

There are two very similar-looking cuts of meat that causes a bit of confusion: skirt steak and hanger steak.

Skirt Steak

Hebrew: steak chatzait/סטק חצאית
If you’ve ever had skirt steak, you know that it is an odd looking, extremely flavorful piece of meat. It is a long strip of meat with the grain running in the narrow direction. This means that to cut it against the grain, you would either cut very long thin strips, or fold it over and cut more manageable pieces. Actually, a skirt steak is typically served folded over, because it’s longer than the plate.

This piece comes from the same general area as asado. There are inside and outside skirt steaks, and it is the basically the entire circumference of the cow. That means there’s a good amount of it. It is cut from the diaphragm of the cow, a collection of muscle and ligaments that separates the lungs from the rest of the internal organs. Since it is used every time the cow breathes throughout the course of its life, the meat can be tough if cooked improperly. That makes marinating the skirt steak with an acidic or soy-sauce marinade ideal.

It can also retain a surprising amount of saltiness from the kashering process, so it is best to soak the meat in cold water for 30 minutes to leach out some of the salt; you can add it back to taste in your seasoning.

Hanger Steak

Hebrew: sarefet/סרעפת
This is the cut I used as the article image. It looks a bit like skirt steak, and it comes from the same area as the skirt steak, but that’s where the similarities end. If the skirt steak is the “tire” of a bicycle wheel, and the ligaments are the spokes, then the hanger steak is the axle in the middle. in every cow, there is only one per animal. It is extremely tender, since it does not work constantly in the way the the skirt steak muscle does. It is also known as the “Butcher’s Steak” [translation: ¨נתח קצבים¨] because it was usually held back by the butcher to be enjoyed by him and his family (no chauvinism implied). If you manage to get your hands on one, you will pay a premium price.

And it will be worth it.

Posted in Q&A