Monday, 29 September 2008

Teriyaki beef with wakame salad

Authenticity vs innovation. Fusion vs faithfulness to origins. Is one more genuine and valuable than the other? Or is there room for both?--so long as the result is tasty, of course (g). It's a tricky business, this world of food.

I suppose I'm at the stick-with-tradition end of the spectrum. I get a kick out of sourcing odd ingredients for special recipes because I want to taste what the food would taste like in situ. I am not all that fond of cookbooks full of suggested substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients; much less those that don't even bother to give the originals, instead "helpfully" adapting traditional recipes for the "Western kitchen," or whatever. Don't even get me started on recipes that take a perfectly good tradition, then cavalierly change a few principal ingredients but fail to change the name of the dish! Perhaps it doesn't matter, so long as it's someone else's beloved Anzac biscuit or carbonara.

These days I see lots of "exotic" ingredients showing up in places that would make their traditional "owners'" toes curl. Living here in Japan, Western inventions like "salads" made with soba, Japan's buckwheat noodles, just seem so wrong. Call me a pedant, but here is a particular way to eat soba, and tossed with chopped herbs and veggies just isn't it.

Occasionally, though, you come across one of those rare sublime fusions that are so right and so in tune with the original cuisine that you wonder why they hadn't been thought of before! Take this roast beef and wakame salad, which is from Kitchen, a Marie Claire title written by Aussie food writer Michele Cranston.

Wakame, a much-loved, a-hem, sea vegetable is often to be found in salads here in Japan. You can even buy instant seaweed salad here: just add water! Teriyaki , a thick marinade cum sauce that is at once deeply savoury and sweet, is another Japanese staple, most usually slathered on fish and chicken, but superb here on beef. And ginger, a traditional garnish for teriyaki fish, really brings the flavours together in the dressing in this recipe. Truly, it's almost as if a Japanese person came up with the combination (especially if you use mizuna as I did rather than the more Western watercress)!

Oh, and the dressing contains no oil! Any way you slice it, this is a real winner in my book. Any Japanese friends out there, definitely give this one a go!

I usually make my own teriyaki no tare (teriyaki sauce) , so I'm including the instructions below. If you're making a batch for this recipe, be sure to start it first.

Oh, and though Michele has treated this as a starter, it is fairly substantial so some crusty bread or rice might be enough of a meal for lighter eaters.

Teriyaki no tare

100 ml mirin
100 ml Japanese soy sauce
100 ml sake
2 tbsp sugar

Reduce in a pan until the consistency of honey.

Teriyaki beef with wakame salad

Serves 4 as a starter

450 g lean beef fillet
3 tbsp teriyaki sauce
25 g dried wakame seaweed
3 Japanese or Lebanese (short) cucumbers
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tbsp caster sugar
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, julienned
2 red radishes, sliced
1 large handful mizuna or watercress sprigs
1 tbsp black sesame seeds

1 Marinate the beef in the teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Heat a heavy-based oven-proof pan over high heat and sear the fillet on all sides. Put onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

2 Soak the wakame in cold water for 10 min, or until soft. Drain, put in a bowl and cover with 1 tbsp vinegar. Thinly slice the cucumbers diagonally and put into a separate bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and set aside to drain some of the juices for several minutes. [Saffron: Alternatively, just squeeze the juice out by hand.] Dissolve the sugar in the soy sauce and remaining vinegar and add the ginger. Rinse the salt off the cucumber [if you used the salting method] and gently squeeze dry. Combine the wakame, cucumber, radish and dressing in a bowl and toss to combine.

3 Thinly slice the beef and divide among four small plates. Top with the salad and garnish with mizuna or watercress and black sesame seeds.


No comments: