This Anglo-Indian beef stir-fry is a good dish to know: a quick sauté of shaved sirloin and sliced onions flavored with apple cider vinegar and turmeric. I like to serve it over rice with a side of aloo gobi (Indian-spiced cauliflower and potatoes). I have it on good authority that this stir-fry is also good with leftover, reheated Five Guys fries. (Never mind who told me, a journalist never reveals her sources.)
This recipe is an especially good use for grass-fed steak. I love my meat CSA, but I've had a tough time adapting to grass-fed steak, I'll be honest. The flavor is great and I know pasture is better for the cows, but the texture of the meat can be so chewy sometimes. It instantly activates my TMJ causing horrible popping and grinding noises to emanate from my face like some kind of rock tumbler wearing away at the joint's protective cartilage and polishing my jaw bones to a smooth, painful shine. Such is my commitment to sustainable meat.
But when you shave beef very thinly across the bias, there's not enough muscle depth to tense up appreciably. And then if you marinate those slices in something acidic, like vinegar, that helps break down the muscle fibers further. The result is tender, tasty meat in less than 20 minutes. It's a meal my whole family loves.
Other tricks for tenderizing super-lean grass-fed beef:
- Marinate steaks overnight in an acid-based marinade;
- Cook steaks at a lower temperature on the grill;
- Dry-brine steaks with sea salt for an hour, then rinse and dry them before grilling or pan-frying (I haven't tried this yet, but I will soon);
- Slow-cook cheaper cuts of meat in a crockpot (I don't use this method for steaks, which I prefer medium rare); and
- Add bacon fat to burgers (I usually don't have a problem with grass-fed burgers, but if yours seem a little dry, you can always add a tablespoon or two of bacon fat from the fridge to the ground beef before forming the patties).
This recipe evolved as a fusion between Indian and British colonial influences. Though I tend to serve the meat over rice, it's more traditionally eaten with crispy potato wedges and ketchup.
1 pound beef sirloin or other tender cut of beef, sliced very thinly against grain
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. turmeric
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1½ Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
Cayenne pepper to taste
In a shallow bowl, rub the beef slices with the vinegar, salt, and turmeric. Set aside to marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot. Fry the onion and ginger until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cayenne and then the marinated beef. Stir-fry over high heat until cooked but still tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Source: Adapted from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate