My favourite animal is steak,’ quipped American writer Fran Lebowitz.
And yes, there’s nothing quite like a perfectly grilled beef steak. It’s ‘feel good’ food and it can be dressed up in so many ways — including served with a mushroom, mustard or red wine sauce.
Grilling steak lends itself to numerous dishes including ethnic favourites such as Greek kebabs, Asian stir-fries, Italian pizzaiola, Spanish tapas and Mexican chillis.
Carpetbag steak — a scotch fillet stuffed with oysters — was popular during the 1950s and ‘60s. As the steak is grilled or pan-fried, the flavour of the fresh oysters permeates the steak and blends with the juice of the tender meat. A strip of bacon was sometimes wrapped around the steak.
The earliest specific reference to this method of serving steak was in 1891 in a United States newspaper which may indicate a connection with carpetbaggers — or to gluttony!
Always rest steak — covered — for about 5 minutes after cooking so the meat loses less juice and it will be so much more tender when you cut it.
Lean steak (and other beef cuts) is a powerhouse of protein and a great source of iron, the B group of vitamins and zinc.
A favourite on the grill or barbecue.
Onion Pickle: 1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons each: sugar, diced chilli
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced white onion
Steak: 1kg rump or sirloin steak
1/2 cup chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup each: olive oil, white wine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
To make the pickle, combine all the ingredients in a large screw top jar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Cut the beef into serving-sized pieces, if required. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the beef in a shallow dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally.
Remove the meat and pat dry. Grill or barbecue the beef over high heat for about 2 minutes each side for medium rare. Top with the Onion Pickle. Serves 6.
VIETNAMESE CARAMELISED STEAK
2 teaspoons peanut oil
600g beef scotch fillet steak
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tablespoon finely grated root ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
Garnish: 1 long red chilli, sliced
1/4 cup coriander
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Pan-fry the steak for about 2-3 minutes each side, until medium-rare. Remove to a warm plate and cover.
Add the onion, ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, until fragrant. Add the sugar and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until syrupy. Add the fish sauce and lime juice. Simmer for 1 minute.
Cut the steak into 1cm slices and place on a serving dish. Drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with the chilli and coriander.
Great served in lettuce cups with a little steamed rice. Serves 4.
KIWI TWO-MINUTE STEAK BURGERS
Great week night fare. Thin slices of fillet could replace the schnitzel.
400g beef schnitzel
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium courgettes or carrot
4 tablespoons ranch dressing
4 hamburger buns
2-3 teaspoons canola oil
2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup tomato chutney
Cut the schnitzel into serving-sized pieces. Sprinkle with the black pepper.
Spiralise the courgettes or carrot or coarsely shred. Combine with the dressing. Halve and lightly toast the burger buns.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan on high heat. Pan-fry the schnitzel for about 1 minute each side.
Pile the courgette or carrot on the base of the burger buns. Top with the schnitzel and kiwifruit, chutney and bun tops. Serves 4.