When Paul and I eat steak, it isn't generally fillet. Fillet is tender, of course, but that tenderness comes at the expense of good flavour. We'll choose something a little chewier, but with a beefier flavour, like onglet, rump or ribeye every time.
But Paul is working away from home again, so I am back to making the most special and delicious meals I can come up with on the weekends to make up for the fast-food dross he is mostly consuming during the week. Last week, I decided to welcome him home with a big bowl of pho, that fragrant, warming Vietnamese soup that I was quite sure he hadn't been able to get in Aberdeen.
In Sydney, we used to be able to buy very thinly sliced beef for making pho bo. You can probably get it here too, but I've never seen it. I decided that buying some beef fillet and slicing it myself was the way forward.
Of course, the other reason why we wouldn't buy fillet very often even if it was our favourite is that it is bloody expensive. That meat was going to have to work really hard for me.
|Two beautiful 250g fillet steaks.|
|In the cure|
250g fillet steak
2 tbs coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 knife-tip ground cloves
1/2 tbsp freshly ground black peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp brown sugar
Mix the spices together and press into all sides of the beef. Place in a non-reactive container, and refrigerate for 3-4 days, pouring off the liquid that collects daily. To serve, wipe off the spices and slice thinly. Serve with salad - will serve 2-4 people.
|Sliced beef piled on top of the other ingredients, waiting for the hot broth|
I put the piece of beef in the freezer for an hour to make it easier to slice thinly.
In each bowl I piled rice noodles, bean shoots, mint, coriander and basil, topping it off with slices of chilli, spring onions, the sliced beef and wedges of lime.
Just before serving I corrected the seasoning of the broth with fish sauce, lime juice and a bit of sugar and brought it back to a rapid boil, then divided it between the bowls. Then, as we swished the pieces of meat in the broth, we added chilli sauce and hoisin to our bowls to taste.
Delicious, fresh and comforting.
|The meat starting to cook in the broth|
|Beautiful beef. You can see how the curing intensified the colour|