What is dry aging, and what’s the point?

For humans, there’s nothing too glamourous about aging. Slowly getting wrinkly, balding and losing a few marbles; if you hung us up for a month in a controlled humid environment, it probably wouldn’t do much good. However, for meat, this controlled decay process enhances and unlocks new flavours and textures – more than you could imagine.

In a similar way to how luxury restaurants became cured meat-obsessed over the past decade, dry aging beef has made its return from lonesome butchers and steakhouses, to its new home of high-end restaurants. People are also taking dry aging to new heights, going against the original 20-30 day maturing process as butchers have always done. Instead, modish chefs are pushing limits with aging periods of 45 days, 150 days or if you’re the famous Carnevino Steakhouse Las Vegas’ head chef – 8-month-old dry aged steak.

There’s more than meets the eye to dry aging beef. It takes knowledge and skill to ensure the environment is perfect in order for succulent flavours and textures to be released, so it’s safe to say there’s more to the art than hanging some meat on a hook and leaving it to rot.

The science behind dry aging beef is an intense cycle of bacteria manifesting and building layers of different mold, which after broken into reveals juicy and very much un-mouldy meat. An aging room should have a clean smell, and if there are sour notes then the meat has been improperly stored and is not suitable for serving.

Underneath that intense smell is the water seeping out and concentrating the flavour, carbs are turned to sugar making it sweeter, connective tissue is weakened which gives it that tender bite we can all appreciate. But one of the most important chemical reactions that takes place is the protein that is broken down into amino acids, umami included. Umami deepens the rich and concentrated flavour of aged beef and tingles the tastebuds, providing that sensory pleasure we can recognize in every bite of a steak.

We pride ourselves at The Hook for dry aging all of our meat for a minimum of 28 days in our own dry age cabinet. Our meat is aged on the bone to intensify the flavour, and we serve a variety of different beef cuts. Steaks include fillet, picanha rump & rib-eye, large steak cuts of côte de bœuf, sirloin on the bone and chateaubriand are available. Even our ‘Smokey Joe’s Burger’ patties are dry aged. We have an extensive and ever changing menu of high quality steak cuts, just ask your waiter for details.