Why does my steak look so pale?

This is probably a stupid question. I have been trying steak sou vide medium rare. The temperatures are fine but no matter what the interior color looks pale and not red like all these pictures I see. Is it the quality of the meat? Or am i possibly overcooking and not know it? I checked another thermometer in the water and it matches with what the anova says?

For eg. Here is a new york strip i just tried. It seems medium rare but the color just looks so unappetizing?

Forgot to mention that was cooked at 131.

How thick is that particular steak? I’ve found thinner cuts (1" or less) can sometimes overcook due to the thinness.

1 Like

Hmmm… that is definitely not how it should turn out. How long did you cook it for? It looks more like the texture that can be “pulled” which is often from longer cooks (think pulled pork shoulder).

Maybe it was left in for a little too long. If you try again you could try not cooking for more than 1-3 hours.

That was maybe a little less than an inch. Also the cook time was only 1 hour. And it was definately not the pully type texture. Had the texture of eating a steak.

How much liquid was in the bag? That’s one thing that I’ve found is that steaks that lose a lot of their fluids can turn out this way - what they end up doing is simmering in their own juices, drawing more blood out of the meat. Best way to counter this is to trim as much fat from the steak as possible before cooking. Also, for these thinner steaks, you might want to drop the temperature to about 128F - this will produce a rarer textured steak, but preserve more of the fluids.
There’s also the option to salt the steaks beforehand (possibly overnight) - notes on that here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/03/the-food-lab-more-tips-for-perfect-steaks.html
This helps preserve the juiciness of the meat.


How long was your sear?

Sear was about a minute per side each. Next time as soon as the meat is out I will try putting a thermometer in to get the internal temp. The water temp on the anova matched another thermometer i put in.

Could meat quality have anything to do with it? Maybe im just buying meat at the wrong place?

Yeah its possible - Every time I’ve done ANY type of beef I’ve been getting exactly same results. The only thing that has been affecting any sort of variance is the sear length.

I usually use 1.5"+ cuts of beef (NY strip, flank, etc) and sear for about 30 seconds each side, then 10 seconds per edge on a cast iron w/ really really really hot avocado oil.

Always comes out tasty!

My concern with yours would be the sear length plus the relative thickness of the steak. You can overcook it with a sear that long. If you’re up for experimenting, try taking it out and cutting off a small piece before you even sear it and give it a minute or two. Check the color then to see if its the sear that is affecting it the most :slight_smile:


You need a hotter fire and shorter duration sear.

Many folks would skip the sous-vide step in your recipe (I know we are all here to talk about sous-vide but just to state the obvious). Having said…
Shocking your steak will also help (ice bath or just run it under a cool tap for a minute while still sealed in the bag)- the idea being that all cooking stops and the meat goes into the (very) hot pan with a cool center so that the edges touching the pan cook while it takes a lot more energy to cook into the center. Even shocking your steak, the recommendation above for a hotter pan and shorter cook (sear) time is a good one. Also, understand that you need a certain amount of fat/oil in the bag with your steak or you are going to have poor results (don’t trim fat off anything you are cooking in a sous-vide and if it is a lean protein or a trimmed steak you will need to add oil/fat) and you need a certain amount of fat (duck fat, butter, bacon grease, or whatever you want to use.) in your pan to achieve a proper sear. If you want a great sear on a steak you will baste it with butter (or whatever fat) while you sear it. Again… screaming hot pan and for a shorter duration while you baste it with butter.
One last thing to understand is that your steak is going to have a delayed blush because of the sous-vide process. It might look medium or even medium-well when you cut into it and blush to a medium rare color as it rests (another reason to skip the sous-vide step for a steak on the rarer side).

Pork chop. That is all.

If I was shown that ‘steak’ without any sous vide experience I would guess it to be very, very young and only just out of the ‘veal’ stage.It’s almost lamb colour.

A minute sear each side seems a long time to me. The increased time on the high heat would increase the cook level.

No, none of the above is true. The steak is probably just exposed to air to long or the steer was probably old. Believe it or not, grocery stores use special shrink wrap that alows air to get through, first turning the meat cherry red, then grey, then brown before it spoils… has to do with a protein in beef muscle fiber. I have just purchased a package of T-Bones on sale that is as white as pork, and it is raw. From the picture, you can see the searing did not go very deep at all. Here is how the chemistry works:


When you pay $3.70 per lb for T-Bone, obviously something can’t be right haha

More often than not they actually use modified air packaging that does not let oxygen into the package. The gas is blended for the contents. For beef you might have a higher percentage of carbon dioxide like 30%. Salmon might be 40% CO2 and 60% Nitrogen. This helps color and extends the life of anything that can oxidize.