This is the summer special-occasion dish to beat all special-occasion dishes. I say "summer" because the best way to prepare these well-marinated steaks is on the grill, and for many of us that means summer. and as for the "special-occasion" part, anytime beef of this quality and amount is involved, it usually means something special is being celebrated
Admittedly, this is not a staff-meal dish but it's one I wanted very much to include because it's a favorite of mine. Actually, the real star here is the sauce, based on Chinese flavors. It marries beautifully with the tender beef, especially after the beef has been marinated in a compatibly flavored mixture just long enough so that its outer layer is permeated. Although the flavors are more exaggerated than they would be in a traditional Chinese dish, they infuse without overwhelming. Freshly steamed rice would accompany the steaks nicely.
For the beef and marinade:
2 cups good-quality soy sauce, such as Kikkoman
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
8 beef fillet steaks (1-1/2 inches thick; 8 to 10 ounces each)
For the sauce:
1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 large onion, unpeeled, roughly cut into chunks
3 medium carrots, unpeeled, roughly cut into chunks
3 heads garlic, cut in half through the cloves
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup dark soy sauce
4 ounces Chinese rock sugar or 1/2 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
4 large pieces dried orange or tangerine peel, softened
6 ounces whole star anise (about 2 cups)
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches), broken in half
4 quarts Chicken Stock (see Note)
3 tablespoons beurre manié
1. Prepare the marinade: Place the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, five-spice powder, sesame oil, and ginger in a bowl and whisk until blended. Place the beef in a large roasting pan and pour the marinade over it. Turn the beef so that it's coated all over with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, for 12 hours, turning the beef several times as it marinates.
2. Prepare the sauce: Hear the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well browned, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the wine and soy sauce, increase the heat to high, and cook until the mixture is reduced by half, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the rock sugar, orange peel, star anise, cinnamon stick, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the liquid for 1 hour.
4. Pour the sauce into a colander set over a second large pot, pushing down on the vegetables and spices to extract as much liquid as possible. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium high and boil until the liquid starts to thicken (it should be reduced by half and become more saucelike), about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, preheat a grill to high or preheat the broiler.
6. Taste the sauce; it should be mildly sweet, salty, and redolent with the flavor of anise. Reduce the heat to medium, whisk in the beurre manie; and continue cooking the sauce, whisking frequently, until it has thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside, covered to keep warm, while you grill the steaks.
7. Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry. Oil the grill rack, place the steaks on the rack, and grill, making sure you watch the heat carefully; the sugar and soy sauce tend to cause the meat to blacken quickly. If you like your steak rare, figure 4 to 6 minutes per side; for medium, 6 to 8 minutes per side.
8. Transfer the steaks to a platter or individual plates. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve immediately.
This sauce calls for homemade stock only. You can get away with canned substitutes in other recipes, but for this one, please bring out the best from scratch.
Staff Meals from Chanterelle
By David Waltuck and Melicia Phillips
Workman Publishing Company, December 2000
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created May 2001
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