Twelve or so years ago, when Thai cuisine was viewed as a relatively novel ethnic cuisine, and one which we enjoy, we happened on a very useful publication from Australian Women’s Weekly. Page 32 has recipes for red, green and massaman curry pastes. This last, I have made often, although, I confess, not for a while.
But I digress. One of our favourite summer suppers is based on the beef salad in this book.
I have made this with beef, and not, I might add, with rump, but rather with a hunk of stewing steak which when rare, and cut across the grain, works just as well. Some (i.e. The Husband) would say it’s better because it’s more flavourful. That said, we have this salad most often with ostrich.
At the time we discovered aforementioned book, ostrich meat was cheaper than beef. That’s changed. For two reasons: flocks took a serious knock with the avian flu pandemic, but more importantly, ostrich is a not a “red” meat: like chicken, it is lean. Which brings me back to The Husband who, as regular readers know, is a dedicated, salad-eating carnivore who has been both a beef and poultry farmer. Early on in our relationship, my suggestion that we have ostrich was met with, “Why would I want to eat ‘big chicken’? Chicken isn’t meat!”
He and the local boere* are of a mind: chicken is amper vleis.* *
To cut a long story short, he was persuaded to try it – at least once – and although not immediately a convert, was game to try it again. Preferably disguised as something else. This salad does exactly that.
What I do
Having followed this recipe to the letter, I discovered that the inclusion of the chopped herbs in the dressing, which is actually the basting sauce, was a mistake. If you’re searing the meat on a smoking hot, cast iron griddle, the herbs (and garlic) char. The salad ends up full of unsightly, unpleasant-tasting black bits. Instead, I combine the first four ingredients for the dressing-cum-basting and reserve the fresh coriander and mint, and depending on my mood, either leave them whole or chop them to add to the salad when I assemble it (not always in the dressing).
On this occasion, I decided to serve the meat separately from the rest of the salad. The sliced, seared ostrich was presented on a bed of coriander and mint, with a mixed salad.
Where I’ve needed to include a starch, I’ve also served this on a bed of rice noodles, making it a great summer supper.
* * almost meat