Steak. It’s essentially great food that doesn’t need much, no matter how you prepare it. You can cook it with loads of butter, pop it on the BBQ, grill it on the stove top, stir-fry it with sesame oil and ginger syrup, it doesn’t matter because it’ll all taste good. But if you want to do something else -if you want to put a little bit more flavor in there and leave some of the butter out- here’s my Indonesian steak recipe.
My cooking often has Indonesian influences. Not only because I’m Dutch, only partially because my mom lived there for several years and I grew up with it, but mainly because the Indonesian kitchen is one of the best in the world. Their cuisine is colorful and flavorful. It’s also back to basics, no frills, just simplicity. Real food. So I came up with this recipe.
I love the various exotic spices used in Indonesian cooking. Most of them are safely tucked away in my kitchen cabinet, but for your sake, I won’t be using them in this recipe because I doubt many of you have them. If you do own them, don’t be afraid to add some laos, sereh or djintan.
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 clove garlic, grated
Chili pepper, minced
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/8 tsp sesame oil
Tiny drop of olive oil
Optional: lemon juice
Optional: bean sprouts
Grab a bowl and pour 2 tbsp soy sauce in there. If you live in a part of the world where there’s sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis), go for that and simply omit the sugar. Why go through more trouble than strictly necessary, right?
Add 1/8 tsp sesame oil. You really don’t want to use anymore than this or it’ll end up being the main flavor.
Chop the chili pepper, grate the ginger and garlic. I always leave some of the chili seeds in there.
Pour a tiny bit of olive oil in there as well.
I went for 1 heaping tbsp brown sugar. If you like it sweet you can add an additional tbsp. It’ll be just as tasty, only sweeter. Which is not a bad thing at all, mind you!
Also get 2 tbsp of peanut butter in there, any peanut butter will do. If you rub a tiny drop of oil on your measuring spoon, the peanut butter will slide out of it real easy.
Now start whisking. It’ll turn into a beautiful, shiny and thick paste. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice at this point, but I seldom do.
Break out the meat! Now can I have a moment of silence for this beautiful piece of meat? It’s a culinary experience in and of itself. Just look at it, hold your breath, take it all in for a moment and then slowly exhale. Done? Great!
Now make sure the marinade fully and royally covers the meat on both sides, don’t forget the edges.
It’s still raw, but to me this already looks tasty. Probably because I know what it will taste like later on. Cover with foil and leave it be for a while. At least for an hour.
The greens. There’s always green in my world. Lettuce, who can live without it? Shush, I don’t want to know, leave my bubble intact, will you!
Slice a medium onion and half a red bell pepper. Don’t slice them too thin as they will be grilled as well, it’ll make us do something useful with the meat resting time.
Put the meat on a hot grill. We seldom to never grill outdoors in the Netherlands -the weather hasn’t been exactly right for it either- so I’m grilling on my stove top. I don’t use any oil because I’ve already added some to the marinade. While grilling, only turn your steak once so it won’t dry out. I typically ruin the steak -or so the medium to raw guys here always tell me- because I like it well-done. I grill it for a good 4 to 5 minutes on each side. What can I say? I just don’t like it raw. Thinking about it, I really don’t care for raw meat in general.
You can also use a thermometer, they’re really cheap. If you want it raw, aim for a 150 degrees core temperature (65C), 160 degrees (70C) for medium and 170 degrees (75C) for well-done.
Take it off the grill and cover with foil. You want to let it rest for 5 minutes now to let the juices settle. Grab your bread of choice and lightly butter it (we butter bread in the Netherlands). Hmmmm, just now noticing I really should’ve oiled my cutting board.
Those 5 minutes gives us just enough time to grill the onion and paprika slices!
Cut the meat in thin slices. Top the bread with the lettuce, the grilled onion and bell pepper. I’ve also added some bean sprouts for a bit of extra crunch. Serve with a small salad on the side.