What are the difference between outside and inside skirt steak?

  • Skirt steak comes in two cuts: outside and inside. While I am sure the difference in cut affects how the meat should be prepared and cooked I am not sure in what ways. A few things I've read about the outside skirt reference the need to trim the membrane, but I'm not sure what the posts are referring to. Leading to my questions about the cuts:

    • What are the differences between the inside and outside skirt steak cuts?
    • How do these differences affect preparation and cooking?
    • When should one cut be chosen over the other? Are the two cuts interchangeable in most recipes?
  • SAJ14SAJ

    SAJ14SAJ Correct answer

    7 years ago

    Per Kenji Alt's Food Lab article on fajitas:

    [T]here are really two distinct cuts from the diaphragm of the steer.

    The outside skirt steak is from the plate section, below the rib and between the brisket and flank, and usually comes with the membrane still attached, which needs to be trimmed before cooking.

    Inside skirt comes from the flank—it's narrower and thinner than the outside skirt, and comes with the membrane removed.

    According to the Houston Press, outside skirt stake is extremely rare in the US, as much of it gets exported to Japan due to a quick in the tariffs. The outside cut is tougher, but extremely flavorful. Both are used in similar applications, if you can get them.

    Given that any skirt you buy is probably inside skirt, the difference is likely to be moot. In making fajitas, Kenji Alt recommends grilling it over extremely high heat, to get browning flavors on the outside, and not overcook the center. He recommends not cooking it over medium rare.

    A couple of pictures:

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    Actually, Kenji recommends not cooking it to "anything shy of medium-rare". He is correct and I would add that even medium-rare is too cool for skirt steak. It can take up to medium-well and still retain a moist & tender texture.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM