Lately I've been trying to cook steak.

I pat the meat with a paper towel, then I put salt on it. I wait another 10 mins, then when I put the meat on the pan, the oil splatters and burns my hand.

I am wondering if I should dry the meat one more time right before I put it into the pan? But if I do that, then am I going to wipe the salt and pepper off the meat? Or what else can I do differently?

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  • 2
    It's the water superheating on contact with the oil causing the splattering. The advice in the answers below is good, I would add that you will still get a bit of splattering even if you follow it, so having a lid or splatter guard for the first few seconds is a good idea. – GdD May 22 at 9:06
  • Does your pan have a lid? Sometimes I use the pan's lid as a "shield", by lifting one side, slipping the item through the gap with tongs, and promptly removing utensil then lower lid until all the popping slows down. – Criggie May 22 at 21:42

Three recommendations:

  • If you pat the meat with a paper towel, it will absorb some of the moisture without removing salt or other seasoning.

  • You need very little oil (if any) in the pan to fry a steak, since fat will melt out of the steak. Use less oil, or put the oil onto the steak rather than in the pan. Then there will be much less oil to spatter.

  • Use a tool such as a spatula or tongs to place the steak in the pan, so your hands are further from it.

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  • Oil on the steak itself is the way to go. Alton Brown does it... good enough for him, good enough for the rest of us. Pat dry with paper towel, salt and pepper, then oil it lightly in a plate so you can get all sides, then directly into the hot pan for a sear. – SnakeDoc May 22 at 19:03
  • I do mine without adding any, just placing the (patted-dry) steak straight onto the hot pan. – dbmag9 May 22 at 21:05
  • I think the oil helps with the mallard reaction, and get that real nice seared crust by letting heat transfer into the steak faster during the high-heat part of the cook. – SnakeDoc May 22 at 21:59
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    Culinary schools also teach you to hold the steak by one edge, then place the opposite edge at the front of the pan, laying the steak toward the back, so that the initial splatters are directed away from you. – Lee Daniel Crocker yesterday

A few things that might help avoid splattering:

  • Let the steak come up to room temperature before patting dry and seasoning. This avoids extra condensation forming.
  • When laying the steak in the pan, lay it "away from you". I.e., hold the steak at one end, lower the other end into the pan on the side nearest to you, then 'roll' the steak until the end you are holding reaches the side of the pan furthest from you.
  • Oil the steak instead of the pan and suse tongs or a spatula, as dbmag9 suggests
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Heat the pan with oil. Once you are ready to transfer the meat, hold the pan in an angle so that oil settles to one side. Place your meat cut on the side with no oil. let the meat get some temperature and you can then lower the pan. This also makes sure that your don't lose any flavour from the meat but removing moisture before hand.

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