Monday, 24 February 2014

Japanese-style Beef Salad

There are times when I want to eat something fresh tasting but something that is also satisfying at the same time. This salad fits the bill perfectly; the vegetables are fresh and crunchy and the barely seared beef adds something more substantial so that you are not feeling hungry again, half an hour later.

The key thing about this salad is that you really do need to use quality beef… and not just any old cut;- it has to be fillet steak. Fillet steak can be shockingly expensive, but as you don’t need a huge amount of it, it is an affordable dish and one that you can treat yourself to every now and again.

At a fundamental level this salad is really a play on the classic Italian dish of Beef Carpaccio but with Asian/Japanese inspired flavours. I remember the very first time that I ever tried Beef Carpaccio. Many years ago I was invited out to dinner by clients of the company that I worked for at the time. I was easily impressed in those days and thought that my fellow diners were terribly stylish and urbane. I can remember wanting to make an impression on them…or more truthfully, I just didn’t want to make a fool of myself!
 
Beef Carpaccio was ordered as a starter for the table. I was horrified when it arrived… the meat was RAW, but not wanting to appear naïve and unsophisticated, I tentatively ate some. What a revelation! Yes the meat was uncooked, but it had been so thinly sliced and served as it was, at room temperature, you could really taste the fantastic flavour of the meat. In every sense it was dish that celebrated the wonderful quality of the beef that was used. I relay this story mainly because I personally learnt a very important lesson that day; which is to try everything at least once and not dismiss something without having sampled it first. So, if you baulk when reading through my recipe below, remember my story.

We are so lucky here in Ireland because we have some of the best beef in the world readily available to buy… so try this recipe and rejoice in the quality of some of the best that Ireland has to offer… as I always say there has to be some pay-back for all the rain we get… and there is – wonderful green pastures on which our cattle can feed and which contribute to the excellence of our beef.

I am going to hold my hands up now and say that I am not a particular fan of raw chillies – but they work here, creating welcome warmth in the mouth with what is essentially a cold salad, and whilst I think that you can easily vary the vegetables used, it is recommended that you don’t exclude the chillies.
 

Ingredients:

100g fillet steak
Salt & white pepper
Salad:
1 small carrot, julienned
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
A handful of thinly sliced red onion
2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
½ courgette, cut into 5cm long julienne strips
½ green chilli, thinly sliced into strips lengthways
½ red chilli, thinly sliced into strips lengthways
A few leaves of fresh coriander
Dressing:
1tblsp olive oil
1tblsp light soy sauce
2tsp rice wine vinegar
 

Method:

1. Place a griddle pan over a high heat and allow to get very hot.
2. Season the outside of the beef with salt and pepper and then sear for about 20 seconds on each side until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan and set aside to cool completely. When cool wrap the beef tightly in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour.
To assemble:
3. Toss the salad ingredients loosely together in a small bowl and place a small mound in the centre of the serving plates.
4. Remove the cling-film from the beef and using a very sharp knife, slice into the thinnest slices that you can. Arrange the beef slices on the plate around the salad.
5. Using a small hand whisk, mix the salad ingredients together and drizzle a little over the salad and the beef.

Serves 2.