Jenny Chandler shares a recipe to make a little luxury go a long way
Both beef and asparagus are understandably extravagant ingredients, owing to the effort and resources that go into their production. Here’s the perfect way to make a little luxury go a long way, with no sense of scrimping. Marinating the beef and searing it in a separate pan ensures the perfect caramelisation. The rare pink flesh is then sliced into ribbons and added to the vegetables. Sprue or thinner stalks of asparagus are perfect for stir-frying, while thicker spears benefit from being blanched for a couple of minutes before joining the wok. The liquorice scent of Thai basil really brings something to the dish, but Mediterranean basil will be delicious too. Pescatarians could marinate thinly sliced mushrooms with the same fish sauce mix, adding them to cook in the wok rather than a separate pan. Throw them in after the vegetables and chilli.
For the beef:
1 x 350g steak, about 3-4cm thick (sirloin is perfect)
1 tbsp vegetable oil such as rapeseed
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp palm sugar or muscovado sugar
½ tsp grated ginger
1 clove of garlic, crushed
For the stir-fry:
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2cm dice of ginger, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely sliced
300g asparagus, sliced into bite-sized pieces, woody ends removed
100g mangetout, trimmed of stalks
1-2 red chillies, finely sliced
2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
Noodles or white rice, to serve
1 lime, quartered
12 leaves of Thai or Mediterranean basil
Remove any excess fat from the steak (setting it aside to fry with later) and place the meat on a plate. Mix together the oil, fish sauce, sugar, ginger and crushed garlic and tip over the steak. Leave the meat to marinate at room temperature, turning it over after about 30 mins.
Heat up a heavy frying pan (this is the moment to add the discarded fat if you have any, giving a bit of extra flavour to the pan). Wipe off any excess marinade from the meat, keeping it for later. Once the pan is smoking hot, sear the meat for about 3 mins on each side for rare meat. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large wok and add the sliced garlic, chopped ginger and spring onions. Toss or stir for 10 secs before throwing in the asparagus, mangetout and chillies, and stir-fry for about 15 secs. Add the leftover marinade and about 4 tbsp water, then cook for 2 mins until the asparagus is just tender. Taste, adding more fish sauce or chilli if necessary.
Spoon the stir-fried vegetables over the rice or noodles. Sprinkle with ripped basil and a scattering of peanuts. Sliver the meat into ribbons and add to the dish along with the lime quarters, ready to squeeze at the table. Scatter over the basil and serve.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler
Image: Kim Lightbody