Sichuan Steak Tartare

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I love steak tartare because to make a really good one – it’s all about the seasoning. It has to be almost too tasty, in order to make it the dish it is. Salty, sour, sweet, you can basically use steak tartare as a vehicle to carry the flavours of any cuisine you like: it’s just about applying the elemental flavours of that cuisine and topping it with a raw egg yolk.

Sichuan food has lots of chilli oil, Sichuan pepper, dried roasted chillies, while a Vietnamese version might feature plenty of fresh, mixed herbs like coriander (cilantro), Vietnamese mint, lemongrass and, of course, fish sauce. I’ve also played with Thai (lime leaf, roasted rice, lime juice, chilli, fish sauce) and Mexican (dried chipotle, coriander, served with tortilla chips) versions of this dish.

To make Sichuan steak tartare, it’s important you use the best-quality piece of beef you can afford. I use tri-tip (triangular in shape, cut from the bottom of the sirloin) because it has a good texture and chew, rather than using fillet, which is a bit too soft. To appreciate the texture and quality of the beef, it must be chopped by hand, regardless of which cut you choose.

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Ingredients

Dressing

  • tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • tablespoons sugar syrup (Essentials)
  • tablespoons Chinkiang black vinegar
  • tablespoons mirin
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz light soy sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger

Beef Tartare Base

  • 400 g (14 oz) piece of good-quality beef tri-tip
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma chilli oil

The Rest

  • cassava crackers
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 tablespoons fried garlic chips (Essentials)
  • 1 small handful of baby coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
  • 2 telegraph (long) cucumbers, sliced diagonally

Method

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Beef Tartare Base

Remove all visible sinew from the beef with a sharp knife, then cut into very small 4 × 4 mm (¼ × ¼ inch) cubes. Put in a bowl and add the spring onions, chilli oil and 160 ml ( fl oz) of the dressing. Combine everything with clean hands until the ingredients are nicely mixed together. Cover and set aside.

The Rest

Fry the cassava crackers in oil according to the packet instructions.

Divide the tartare mixture among six plates. Sprinkle each plate with some fried garlic chips and top with some baby coriander. Serve immediately, with the fried cassava crackers and cucumber slices on the side.