In the Kitchen

A New Yorker Revisits Asian Fusion

Melbourne, Australia is home to a sizeable population of Asian restaurants that I love to frequent. Fusion cooking has been shaping Melbourne food culture for some time now, and the flavor combinations are so good.

For the latest installment of my flavor pairing series, I was inspired by beef, lime and fish sauce. I came up with a recipe that makes for a great weeknight dinner, which also includes cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes and scallions. Raw meat recipes are popular in many cuisines around the world, and I wanted to take one for a spin. 

This recipe would find the perfect home at a restaurant that embraces Asian flavors and chooses simple French and Japanese cooking techniques. I also love the added tastes of cucumber and cilantro. The beef is sweet, sour and a touch spicy. You can choose how hot you want the dish to be.

Danielle, a home cook from New York, is here to test the recipe and give her verdict. I’ll let her tell her story and walk us through how she made it.

Meet Danielle

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Photo credit: Allen Murabayashi

 

Hi! I can’t say I love a chunk of beef, but I can’t resist a restaurant steak tartare. I love to cook and will occasionally cook beef tenderloin with just salt and pepper for a quick and easy dinner. My husband, 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter all love and eat beef.

We have a vacation home in North Fork, Long Island, which is about 50 miles away from downtown Manhattan. On the way there, I picked up a tenderloin from a Manhattan butcher. I thought it would be a perfect cut of meat to try the lime and fish sauce version.

Thinking about the inspiration and flavors of this recipe does make me a little nostalgic. I grew up in suburban Phoenix in the 1970s-1990s, in a home that was very much influenced by my parents’ Chinese/Taiwanese and Greek backgrounds. Coming home from school and seeing a cow’s tongue, tripe or pig’s stomach on the counter was not out of the ordinary. With the exception of pig’s stomach, I can’t say I ever craved the other “weird” food items my dad brought home.

We would also go to dim sum after going to the Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday. Every Sunday night, my mom would make avoglemeno, a Greek style lemon chicken soup. We added various Chinese and Japanese condiments to enhance the taste. Even though I occasionally make avoglemeno or order it in a New York City diner, it’s never as good as my mom made it.

Reading about this dish made me think about the food of my childhood, and inspired me to recreate the fusion cuisine for my own family.

Making the dish

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We purchased our vegetables from Sang Lee Farms in North Fork, Long Island, New York.

 

I brought my fancy city meat in a cooler to the vacation house, and had farm fresh vegetables from one of the many farms out here. I don’t use fish sauce much, but my arm doesn’t need to be twisted to use something salty in a recipe! I added sugar liberally, and used cilantro I bought at the grocery store – I have it in my Long Island garden, but it can be tough to grow.

I was a happy camper the first time I made the recipe. The recipe was so straightforward, and made a delicious meal that my family loved. The veggies in the recipe happen to be on the thumbs up list of veggies my kids will eat without the promise of dessert at the end of the meal, so I was happy about that.

While still on vacation a week later, I decided to make it again. This time I had to buy it at the grocery store, and my main options were a boneless strip and a rib steak. I also made a separate cup of sauce for the veggies before marinating the beef. We all thought the tenderloin was much better the first time, and I even marinated the beef longer the second time – but it was still really tasty.

How to make the beef, lime and fish sauce recipe

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Ingredients:

For the steak:
• 240 grams ribeye steak
• 75 grams soy sauce
• 15 grams white sugar
• 15 grams fish sauce
• Juice from ½ of a lime

For the salad:
• 120 grams julienned cucumber
• 110 grams julienned tomato
• 80 grams julienned bell pepper
• 80 grams sliced red onion
• 30 grams sliced scallion
• 15 grams olive oil
• 5 grams chopped cilantro
• 2.5 grams chopped mint

Steps:
1. Mix the soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce. Add in the lime juice. Set aside 1/4 of the marinade to use for the salad. Use the rest to marinate the beef for 1 to 2 hours. Turn the meat frequently.

2. Remove the meat from the marinade. Pat the meat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Color golden brown in olive oil. Cut the meat into thin slices.

3. Put the vegetables for the salad in a bowl. Mix the herbs with the sliced meat. Season with olive oil, and drizzle the marinade you set aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can read more about Younes’s flavor pairings here. Let us know if you try the beef, lime and fish sauce recipe by leaving a comment below!

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