Food & Culture

Anatomy of a dish: Sunda's steak with sunrise lime satay

Steak, carrots, curry sauce. This dish from Sunda in Melbourne may sound simple, but it’s anything but. Want to cook like a chef? Time to step up.

By Khanh Nguyen
Sunda's steak with sunrise lime satay

1. The beef stock

1 kg each beef knuckle, chuck bones and veal bones
3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 heads of garlic, halved
800 gm Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  1. Combine bones and 3.4 litres water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Skim, reduce to a simmer, then add vegetables and bring back to the boil. Skim then reduce to low and simmer
    until stock is well-flavoured (6 hours). Strain. Makes about 1.5 litres.

2. The steak

1½ tbsp wattleseed
2½ tsp coriander seeds
4 green cardamom pods
½ tsp cloves
½ cinnamon quill
½ tsp black peppercorns
1½ tsp sweet paprika
1½ tsp Chinese five spice
20 gm green curry paste
20 gm Vegemite
30 gm tamarind purée
20 gm tomato paste
1½ tbsp dark palm sugar, crushed
30 ml Coca Cola
4 flank or skirt steaks (200gm each)
  1. Dry-roast whole spices in a frying pan until fragrant (see cook's notes). Transfer to a large mortar with 1 tsp salt and grind to a fine powder with a pestle. Add remaining spices, stir to combine, then add remaining ingredients (except steak) and pound to form a paste. Spread paste all over steaks, seal in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight to marinate. Before grilling, discard marinade, scrape excess from steaks and bring to room temperature.

The carrot-curry sauce

800 ml fresh carrot juice
600 gm fatty beef trimmings, cut into 2cm pieces
30 gm tomato paste
Vegetable oil, for drizzling
60 gm green curry paste
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 lemongrass stalk (white part only), crushed with a mortar and pestle
220 ml coconut milk
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 star anise
2 tsp chilli flakes
1 heaped tsp annatto seeds
1 tsp wattleseed
½ tsp dried green peppercorns
2 tsp mild Indian-style curry powder
¾ tsp ground ginger
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp dried strawberry gum leaves
1½ tbsp dried peppermint gum leaves
2 tsp each native pepper leaves, dried ground lemon myrtle and dried lemon gum leaves
1 tsp wild thyme
  1. Bring carrot juice to the boil in a saucepan. Strain reserving juice and solids (the orange carotene) separately.
  2. Heat a large casserole over medium-high heat. Add beef in batches and turn occasionally until browned all over (4-5 minutes). Remove beef and reserve fat separately. Add tomato paste to casserole, reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally until caramelised (2-3 minutes). Add beef fat (and a little oil if needed), then curry paste, turmeric and lemongrass and stir occasionally until caramelised (4-5 minutes). Add coconut milk and simmer until thick (4-6 minutes).
  3. Dry-roast whole spices in a frying pan until fragrant (see cook's notes).
  4. Add BEEF STOCK, carrot juice, whole and ground spices, bay and dried leaves to coconut mixture and bring to the boil, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer until a thick sauce, about 250ml (1¼-2 hours). Season to taste then strain through a fine sieve.
  5. Whisk reserved carotene back into the sauce. Reheat before serving.

The carrot pickle

12 Dutch carrots, halved lengthways
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
¾ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cloves
100 ml rice wine vinegar
50 gm caster sugar
4 garlic cloves
  1. For carrot pickle, dry-roast spices in a frying pan until fragrant (10-20 seconds; see cook's notes). Combine ingredients, ½ tsp salt and 200ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes then cool. Add carrots, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight to pickle.

The sunrise lime satay

100 gm pineapple, chopped
80 gm smooth peanut butter
40 gm sunrise limes (see note), finely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk (white part only) crushed with a mortar and pestle
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 makrut lime leaves, crushed with a mortar and pestle
1½ tbsp mam nem (see note) or fish sauce
1½ tbsp verjuice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1½ tbsp dark palm sugar, crushed
2 tsp mild Indian-style curry powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of xantham gum (optional), to stabilise
  1. Combine ingredients and ½ tsp salt in a high-speed blender and blend just until smooth (be careful; sauce can split). Season to taste.
Note Sunrise limes are available from select native-ingredient suppliers. Substitute cumquats and a squeeze of lime juice. Mam nem, Vietnamese fish sauce, is available from select Asian grocers.

The presentation

Thai basil leaves, to serve
Korean chilli flakes, to serve
  1. Burn down coals on a charcoal barbecue to high heat. Add STEAKS and grill, turning occasionally, until cooked to your liking (2-3 minutes a side for medium-rare). Rest in a warm place for 3 minutes. Thickly slice before serving.
  2. Pipe a large dollop of SUNRISE LIME SATAY onto plates. Arrange steaks next to satay. Spoon CARROT-CURRY SAUCE over steaks, then garnish with PICKLED CARROTS and Thai basil. Sprinkle a little chilli powder onto satay to serve.

And then some more...

At Sunda, Khanh Nguyen adds koji to his beef marinade and to the carrot pickle, which helps tenderise the beef and add another level of umami. He also cooks the steak sous-vide before finishing it on the grill, and he deep-fries the carrots before pickling them.
Needless to say, Nguyen also makes his green curry paste from scratch.
This recipe has plenty of native ingredients. Most are available online from native-ingredient suppliers, such as outbackchef.com.au