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I'm a London-based food writer, stylist and author. Click here to see more about me and my work

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Craving beef tataki

If I had to choose one of my four tastes it would have to be salty. Sweets are fulfilling to make but its the savoury tastes I long for most. Soy, fish sauce, anchovies or capers find their way into my cooking before I know it. Sour citrus or vinegar follow along quickly to mellow the salt and add a tang. Japanese ponzu sauce, which is soy mixed with lemon and sugar, is a classic example of this uber sweet and sour combination. It’s so yummy you will feel like tipping the bowl back and drinking it once you taste it. Classically it used for dipping tempura, sushi or as a superb salad dressing.

The latter works a treat for this beef tataki recipe. The meat is marinated, seared and mixed with a sweet onion ponzu dressing and sprinkled with nutty fried garlic chips for a to-die-for salad. Japanese food is just addictive to me with its sharp but clean ingredients like ginger, soy, mirin, or miso. Tender beef fillet or sirloin is ideal to use. It’s a budget-blower, but if made as a starter you won’t need that much meat. Add some shaved radishes, red or yellow tomatoes and spicy lettuce like rocket or mizuna and you have a very colourful tasty dish.

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Beef tataki salad with sweet onion dressing and garlic chips
Prep time 15 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
cooking time 5 minutes
serves 6 as starters

600g/1lb 5 oz beef fillet or sirloin cut into 4cm(1 1/2inch) steaks
3 tsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
6 small radishes trimmed and sliced
6 small handfuls wild rocket or mizuna
2 tsp white or black sesame seeds toasted

Dressing
160ml/5 fl oz Japanese soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp castor sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 small sweet or yellow onion finely diced

Place the dressing ingredients in a small non-metalic bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Arrange the beef in a shallow glass dish and pour about 60ml/1/4 cup of the dressing over. Let marinate 1 hour refrigerated. Set aside the remaining dressing.

Remove the beef and dry on kitchen paper. This is important or the beef will not sear properly. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a frying pan. Cook the beef for 1-2 minutes each side and remove from the pan. Let rest 10 minutes.

Wipe the pan clean and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining oil and the garlic. Fry until golden about 2 minutes. It will burn quickly so watch it carefully. If they burn it will taste bitter versus nutty. Drain on kitchen paper.

Slice the beef and arrange on plates with the radish and rocket in the centre. Just before serving, spoon the dressing over and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

One Comment

  1. Jean says:

    This is a great posting, Jenny, and the blog is divine. I’m subscribing now.

    Food life here has not been so thrilling, no meals in heels, usually meals in holey socks…often cobbled together from half-fixed things I can get at the local grocery (case-in-point: premade meat loaf. Yechhhh. Now that’s lazy, given how easy it would have been to make had one been craving comfort food. Lucky my husband is the only carnivore around here, although he sometimes shares with Snowy cockatoo).

    The week before last I went to a store in Denver that you and your readers would love. It featured only olive oils and balsamic vinegars, some of them interestingly flavored. They had it set up so you could taste-test any of them, and in creative combinations.

    I was also told of a spice place to rival (and, this source told me) exceed the beloved Penzeys. It was started by someone who was with the original stores. I’ve not tried it out yet, but I’ll post here if I find it to be as good as it’s said to be.

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