One of wife’s work colleagues from the Toronto office was in Singapore for a lightening visit and came over to our place for casual dinner. Looking squinty eyed and a little pale, Peter was clearly suffering from major jet lag, so we pumped a bit of Two Paddocks Riesling into him on arrival to see if we could revive the poor man.
He responded instantly to the prescription coming to life, well least for a few hours, time enough to stoke him up with our Thai Beef Salad which went splendidly with the Two Paddocks Riesling 2011.
I know your thinking beef with riesling sounds a bit odd, but I have written on this recently, pairing up a vivacious Mahi Sauvignon Blanc with this dish; the flavour synergies here being freshly squeezed lemon and lime and loads of fresh garden mint and peppery leaves like Laksa Leaf and Asian Mints. The Two Paddocks Riesling with just a hint of residual sugar and bursting in lime and mountain-air freshness picks up on all these tangy flavours and spice brilliantly.
I should mention, you need to use a good cut of beef, I prefer grass-fed Black Angus sirloin or rib eye off the bone, even better if you can track down some Australian or US Wagyu rump, it has much less fat than Kobe Beef and the rump only minimally marbled.
Peter’s eyes widened when I displayed the massive slabs of Wagyu that I had marinated, his Canadian carnivorous dopamine receptor D5 booting up his limbic system in anticipation, with a drooling, salivating look on his face.
It took no more than an hour in total to whip up this one-course main although some pre-planning is required, and ideally would purchase your beef a day in advance, to marinate overnight in Thai Fish Sauce. However, you can get by marinating it for just a few hours by using a studded meat mallet, pound each side of the beef so it is perforated, then rub in the Thai Fish sauce liberally then wrap tightly in cling film as a way of speeding up the marinating process.
The salad ingredients are not fixed so be as creative as you like, or pragmatic if you can’t lay your hands on some of these items:
- Japanese cucumber – sliced thinly
- Large bunch of garden mint
- Vietnamese mint tía tô (which you can substitute with Japanese Green shiso perilla, research at (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla)
- Laksa Leaf (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persicaria_odorata)
- Mesclun salad, or Asian salad mix
- Lemons and Limes – enough to squeeze about half a cup of juice
- Couple of large shallots – sliced thinly
- Malaysian Sambal – available at most Chinese food suppliers, research or even experiment with other Sambal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambal#Malaysian_sambal)
- Thai Fish Sauce
- Olive Oil
Wash and prepare all your leaves and have everything ready, juice squeezed etc as it all comes together very quickly.
Now sear your beef making sure the pan is really hot as you want to make sure it is browned nicely on the outside but fairly rare on the inside, as the meat has already marinated/cooked to a large degree in the Thai Fish Sauce. Of course, if you have a BBQ, all the better and just give them a quick singe each side.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes but make sure you keep the juices and add to the salad. Then slice the beef into generous portions, say half a centimetre in thickness.
A Wok is good for the next stage, but a large pan will do the job just as well. Add a slug of olive oil and cook the sliced shallots until soft. Add two tablespoons of Sambal and another slug of olive oil, cooking gently for a minute or so. Turn off the heat and throw in all the meat, tossing it to coat it with the Sambal.
Then throw in all your salad leaves and mints, tossing thoroughly and adding lime juice to taste – this is the important part, as you need to add and taste as you go, also giving it a few splashes of Thai Fish Sauce which is your salt – and this depends on how tangy you want it.
Note there is no chilli, other than the Sambal paste, so it is not a spicy hot dish at all; rather it is an explosion of mints and nettle-flavours, lifted by the piquancy of freshly squeezed lime juice, mingling with the meat juices and the meat flavour – which is infused with the Fish Sauce – and the shallots adding a little sweetness with a little spicy warmth from the Sambal, all combining to a tantalizing salad and profusion of flavours.
Now, do you see why Riesling goes brilliantly with this – forget the beef, it’s all about mints and nettles with spicy, peppery notes from the Laksa leaves and refreshing tangy lime flavours – all synergistic with our Two Paddocks Riesling – which I might add is only produced in miniscule quantities, so you need to get on to the vineyard to track some down www.twopaddocks.com