Finally for this week one of my favourite sorts of recipe. It is one of those when you manage to somehow conjure up a delicious dinner from almost nowhere. All I had left in the box was a green Batavia lettuce, some carrots and a cucumber. All I had in the fridge was one fillet steak. We can learn a lot from Asian recipes as they have long understood that meat and fish are costly and they know how to make expensive ingredients go along way. This is of course a healthier way of eating too and the idea that the vegetables should be as important as the accompaniment is very trendy at the moment. Although the list of ingredients often looks long and complicated, it really is store cupboard stuff and it really could not be quicker and easier to make.
Just time for “Kitchen Kit of the Week” – a microplaner is a grater reinvented. The story is, a Canadian housewife decided to use one of her husband’s favourite woodworking tools and discovered that it was the best orange zester she had ever used. There is a whole range available now but I suggest a fine one, for effortlessly grating ginger and lemongrass like you have never seen. Pick one up on Amazon or at Lakeland.
Vietnamese Lettuce and Beef Wraps
You can make the dipping sauce and marinade the meat the day before.
For the marinade
1 fillet steak
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 tsp caster sugar
1-1½ tsp toasted sesame oil, to taste
For the dipping sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar, to taste
2 tsp. caster sugar, to taste
1 tbsp. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 stick lemongrass
1 lime, juice only
1 fresh red chilli
For the wraps
1 carrot, cut into fine julienne strips or grated
3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and chopped
½ small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
1 lettuce such as Batavia or baby gem
Lime wedges, to serve
For the marinade, put the steak into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix until coated evenly. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if possible.
Meanwhile make the dipping sauce. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together. Finely chop the red chilli. If you like it hot then leave the seeds in, if not remove them. Remove any tough outer leaves from the lemongrass and trim the bottom. Grate using a microplaner starting at the bottom and grating until nearly three quarters of the way up. (If you do not have a microplaner, chop very finely). Add with the chilli to your dipping sauce and taste. Adjust the flavours as necessary – adding a little more sugar if it’s too sour, or more rice vinegar or lime juice if too sweet.
Next peel and grate your carrots and cut your cucumber into julienne. A mandolin is good for this. Separate and wash the salad leaves and leave to drain. Pick the leaves off the herbs.
In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat a dash of oil. Shake off any excess marinade from the steaks and cook for 2-3 minutes on either side – depending on their thickness and how rare you like your steak. Tip over the marinade and remove and rest on a plate for five minutes.
To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving plate. Fill the lettuce leaves with carrot and cucumber. Add a small handful of herbs. Slice the rested steak, and top each leaf with a slice or two of steak, tipping any resting juices over the top. Serve with the dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.