Ostrich, watermelon, pickled golden beets, anise

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    Starter Portions
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Mile 8: A book about cooking

Mile 8

By David Higgs

Published 2018

  • About
Rust en Vrede

Be careful with the star anise. It’s a particular flavour and can easily overpower.




  • ½ small watermelon – about 1kg

Golden baby beetroots

  • 200 g (16) yellow baby beetroots
  • 30 ml white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Fennel bulb

  • 25 g butter
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 whole fennel bulbs
  • 8 g fennel seeds

Pickled golden beetroot

Shaved fennel

  • 2 fennel bulbs – peeled and cut in half lengthways
  • 120 ml sherry dressing – 15ml per serving – to drizzle
  • star anise powder– to sprinkle
  • 8 fennel pollen tops – to sprinkle


The fan fillet is a cut from the upper inner thigh of the ostrich. It is the most tender and the easiest to work with. Trim excess sinew and portion the fillet into 80 g portions. Brush with basting sauce and season with sea salt flakes. Place on the grill over hot coals to colour. Move the meat over medium coals and cook slowly to desired temperature – see ‘Meat – cooking temperatures’. Alternatively, cook in a pan – see ‘Cooking meat in a pan’. Remove from the heat and rest for 10–20 minutes in a warm place.

Cut the watermelon lengthways and place face down on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, slice 8 × 1cm-thick half-moons. Lightly grill the slices on both sides for serving.

Wash and scrub the 16 baby beetroots and wrap them together in foil. Just cover the base of an oven tray with water and add the vinegar. Add the foil parcel to the tray. Cook in a 200°C oven until the beetroots are soft – about 30 minutes. Unwrap the beetroots and return to the oven to colour and roast, then remove from the oven and peel while still warm. Halve for serving.

Melt the butter and water and whisk until emulsified. Cut the fennel bulbs in half and place onto an oven tray. Pour over the emulsion and sprinkle with the fennel seeds. Cover the tray with foil and bake in a 180°C oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the fennel in the liquid. Once cooled, remove from the tray and cut the halves in half once more and colour in a nonstick pan or on medium heat over the coals, as needed for serving.

Heat the rice wine vinegar pickle on a stovetop. Peel the 6 beetroots and shave 24 thin slices on the mandolin. Place the slices in a vacuum bag and cover with hot rice wine vinegar pickle. Vacuum seal and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

Shave 24–32 slices of the fennel bulbs on a mandolin or gravity slicer on setting 1. Place the shavings in ice water until needed.

To assemble, arrange each plate as you wish or as per the photo. Place a grilled watermelon disc on each plate with an 80 g portion of ostrich next to it. Top the watermelon with 4 halves of hot golden baby beets, a quarter of a fennel bulb, 4 slices golden pickled beetroots and 3–4 slices of shaved fennel. Dress with 15ml sherry vinegar and finish with a sprinkling of star anise powder and fennel pollen.