"For me, tartare has always been comforting and a crowd-pleaser," says Anchovy chef Thi Le. "It was one of our staples growing up - Mum would bang out a tartare with herbs fresh from the garden whenever she had guests, or if my school friends came over. It was Mum's way of using all the leftover pho beef. My other love is Laotian food for its chilli and freshness. The Anchovy tartare is a hybrid of Mum's and the Laotian-style - lots of heat and punch and fresh herbs."
- 1 tbsp white sticky rice
- 1 red birdseye chilli, quartered lengthways
- 200 gm piece of flank steak, very finely diced
- ¼ Lebanese cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
- 10 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- ½ golden shallot, very thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 2 spring onions (white part only), thinly sliced
- Watercress sprigs, to serve
- 25 gm caster sugar
- 25 ml white vinegar
- 25 ml fish sauce
- ½ small garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½-1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped, or to taste
- 1 tsp lime juice, or to taste
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- ½ russet Burbank potato, peeled, sliced wafer-thin on a mandolin (see note) (175gm)
- 1Dry-roast rice in a small frying pan over low heat until deep golden (10-15 minutes), cool then finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, and set aside (see note).
- 2Dry-roast chilli in a small wok or frying pan over low-medium heat until completely charred and dried (10-15 minutes), then finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, and set aside (see note).
- 3For nuoc cham, dissolve sugar in 50ml boiling water in a small saucepan, then cool briefly (1-2 minutes). Stir in vinegar and fish sauce, and stand to cool (10-15 minutes), then stir in garlic, chilli and lime juice.
- 4For potato crisps, heat oil to 140C. Rinse potato in a bowl under cold running water until water runs clear. Dry well with paper towels, then deep-fry in batches (be careful, hot oil will spit), turning occasionally, until light golden and crisp (2-3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and season to taste.
- 5Combine beef with ½ tsp roasted rice in a small bowl, and season with roasted chilli and salt to taste. Mix in a third of the nuoc cham, check seasoning – the mix should taste toasty from the rice and spicy from chilli – then add cucumber, mint, shallot, spring onion and extra nuoc cham to taste. Serve tartare topped with watercress and with potato crisps.
Roasted rice and chilli can be done in larger amounts, and kept in an airtight container for up to a month. Russet Burbank potatoes are available from select greengrocers; if they’re unavailable, use sebago potatoes.
Drink Suggestion: Weingut Wittmann “100 Hügel” Riesling 2014, Rheinhessen, Germany – a drier style riesling, with aromatic, round fruit supported by snappy acidity and minerality. Drink suggestion by Andrew Barry