July 3, 2020

Greek Steak

Recipes from ’The Balkan Cookbook’

This dish always takes me back to Crete and a pebble beach restaurant lit by a string of multi-coloured bulbs—where the sound of faraway discos danced on folding seawater and I calmed the soul with a full bodied red.

Greek Fillet Steak

   Grilling steak is all about personal preference and interpretation—a Frenchman’s medium rare is an Englishman’s bleu, and let’s not forget the variations in steak thickness or cut, or cooking appliances—so these are guidelines for what I consider to be a perfect medium rare, three centimeters thick, Greek fillet steak. My interpretation of medium rare is a deep pink center, two centimeters thick with a dark brown surround, and when you press the surface of the steak the deep pink center should give up a little blood.

If you prefer sirloin or rump steak, I recommend stacking your steaks in the pan on the strips of fat first until the fat begins to brown, and then following the grilling times recommended at the bottom of this page.


   Make a marinade by bashing garlic and oregano with rock salt in mild olive oil. Rub marinade into steak and then leave wrapped in cellophane for an hour in the fridge.

Grease the pan in a mild olive oil. I use a heavy iron pan. Use just enough oil to insure the steak doesn’t stick and then heat the pan to a medium heat. Throw in a whole chilli pepper rubbed in olive oil, and grill for a couple of minutes. Place steak in the pan. Keep the chilli away from your steak it’s not there for flavour, but as an important grilled accessory for your steak when it hits the plate—a Balkan alternative to mustard.

Agitate steak*, add a squeeze of lemon juice, grill for four minutes, flip steak, and add another squeeze of lemon. Grill for another four minutes; agitate the steak a few times so it doesn’t scorch. That’s all there is to it, your steak is done. Serve with grilled chilli pepper, a tomato salad and chips or roasted diced potatoes. Make sure there are lemons on the table if you fancy a further squeeze.


1 fillet steak

1 chilli pepper

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon of oregano

Rock salt

Lemon juice

For a two centimeter thick rump or sirloin, grill for three minutes each side for medium rare. For a medium steak add two minutes cooking time to each side. For well done—don’t ask.

*Balkan steaks are not seared on a high heat but cooked evenly on a medium heat—believe me all meat is more juicy grilled this way. I’m not buying into this searing lark anymore, just make sure the quality of the meat is good, and its grilled at the right temperature for the right time.

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