Friday, 9 May 2008

The YM's favourites 1: Gingered steak & "French" potato salad

The Young Man of the house is shortly to take his annual trip back to Australia for the summer holidays, so I think I will spoil him a bit by making all his favourite meals before he goes. Who knows, maybe the recipes will spur his dear Grandparents to give some of them a go while he's there. Or maybe the YM might surprise them by giving one of them a go himself!

The marinade in this recipe comes from Brilliant Barbecues, a book I've had for years, but never progressed much beyond this one idea. Which is a shame really, as there are a great many more enticing recipes within its covers. (On checking out the publishing details, it transpires that none other than Donna Hay did the food styling for this work. Is their no pie the lady has not had her finger in??)

We don't eat a lot of steak here, as meat is quite expensive (although less so now that a new fresh food-focused supermarket has taken over the spot vacated by the old "discount" supermarket. Not sure how that one works, but I'm certainly not complaining), but when we do, it invariably gets a soak in this very fine marinade first. Now, I know some people are not fond of fresh ginger, and the YM also ranks in their numbers, but somehow this always hits the spot with him, and I am not "allowed" to make steak any other way! So even if you're not a huge fan of ginger, I urge you to give this a go. It really is special.

With the slightly thinner steaks we get in Japan, a couple of hours is plenty of time to marinate in this super tenderizing mixture. Much more than that and the meat will start to fall apart!

The potatoes are an old signature dish of mine from my pre-Middle East gourmet days. The recipe is from Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook (mentioned earlier), but I think of it as my own now as I can make it blindfolded by now.

It is called French potato salad, but when I've taken it to the annual H&H picnic, which is usually attended by at least one French person, I can't say it has elicited an "It tastes just like home" responses (g). The original recipe slathers the pots in both vinaigrette dressing and mayonnaise. It's certainly good that way, but just as often I'll need it in a hurry before it cools enough for the mayo. Either way, I call it yum!

Ginger marinade

2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
60 ml Japanese soy sauce
2 tbsp (2 1/2 tbsp if using non-Australian measuring spoons) brown sugar
2 tbsp (see above) sake or dry sherry

Mix ingredients and marinate meat for around 2 hours.

French potato salad

Vinaigrette dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2--1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp Dijon or seeded mustard
salt and pepper to taste

450 g potatoes, small new potatoes for preference
1/4 onion or 3 spring onions, chopped very finely
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise, or to taste (optional)

Make the vinaigrette by shaking ingredients together in a clean jar.

Scrub the potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain well and return to the heat briefly to evaporate the last of the moisture. Shaking the pan a little to fluff the potatoes will help them absorb the dressing. While still hot, add the onions or spring onions and around half the vinaigrette dressing (or to taste) and toss well to coat. When cool, add the mayonnaise, if desired.


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