Finger steaks are a Boise, Idaho specialty and the townspeople have quite a job figuring out who’s telling the truth when it comes to the culinary invention of finger steaks. Was the real inventor Milo ByBee who claims an excess of stripped tenderloin beef urged him to create the dish? Or was Milo Bybee stepping into the shoes of the real creators of the dish, the previous owners that passed the recipe onto Milo after they sold him their establishment “The Torch”, which Milo renamed “Milo’s Torch Lounge”? How will we ever know?
Whoever invented them, they are highly desirable by Idahoans and visitors continually seek them out. The beef strips are exceedingly seasoned and then marinated in a buttermilk recipe, dredged in flour and deep-fried to an irresistible crispness. Several versions have popped up over the years. Some people marinate the beef strips in beer and then dip them into a beer batter and fry them. Others have (cheaters!) dredged the strips through eggs and a pre-packaged, boxed bread-crumb coating and baked them in the oven.
Finger steaks are purported to have been first served in a restaurant setting at Boise, Idaho’s “Milo’s Torch Lounge” (aka The Torch) in 1957. Milo Bybee claimed to have invented finger steaks while wondering what to do with leftover tenderloin scraps when he was working as a butcher for the U.S. Forest Service in McCall. Bybee went to work as a chef at the Torch in 1946. Others claim that Milo himself did not invent the recipe but that it was passed onto him by the original owners of The Torch. Either way, Finger Steaks are somewhat of a local specialty in Boise with many different homemade varieties.
Their legendary origin is so closely tied to Idaho that one suggestion for the Idaho State quarter design was to “do something with the fact that Idaho is the home of finger steaks,” submitted to the state arts commission on a napkin.
Finger steaks were produced as a frozen food by B and D Foods, which was founded in 1972 to supply its Signature Finger steak to a chain of fast food restaurants, presumably the Red Steer, a now defunct chain of fast food burger joints in Idaho.