"Steak tartare is all about the seasoning," says Hong. "It has to be almost too tasty to make it the dish it is. Salty, sour, sweet, you can basically use steak tartare as a vehicle for the flavours of any cuisine you like: it's just about applying the elemental flavours of that cuisine and topping them with a raw egg yolk. Sichuan food has lots of chilli oil, Sichuan pepper and dried roasted chillies, while a Vietnamese version might feature plenty of fresh, mixed herbs like coriander, Vietnamese mint, lemongrass and, of course, fish sauce. I've also played with Thai (lime leaf, roasted rice, lime juice, chilli, fish sauce) and Mexican (dried chipotle, coriander, served with tortilla chips) versions of this dish. To make Sichuan steak tartare, it's important you use the best-quality piece of beef you can afford. I use tri-tip (a triangular cut from the bottom of the sirloin) because it has a good texture and chew, rather than using fillet, which is a bit too soft. To appreciate the texture and quality of the beef, it must be chopped by hand, regardless of which cut you use."
- vegetable oil, For frying
- 10 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- cassava crackers (see note), To serve
- 1 small handful baby coriander, to garnish
- 1 telegraph cucumber, sliced diagonally
- 1¼ tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1¼ tbsp sugar syrup (see note)
- 2½ tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar (see note)
- 2½ tbsp mirin
- 150 ml light soy sauce
- ½ tsp garlic, finely grated
- 2 tsp ginger, finely grated
- 400 gm piece of beef tri-tip
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp Lao Gan Ma chilli oil (see note)
- 1For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
- 2Remove all visible sinew from the beef with a sharp knife, then cut into very small 4mm x 4mm cubes. Put in a bowl and add the spring onions, chilli oil and 160ml of the dressing. Combine everything with clean hands until the ingredients are nicely mixed together. Cover and set aside.
- 3Heat vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan to 150C. Gently add garlic and stir continuously until light golden (3-5 minutes), then quickly scoop out with a sieve or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Cool. Fry the cassava crackers in oil, according to the packet instructions. Divide the tartare mixture among 6 plates. Sprinkle each plate with some fried garlic and top with baby coriander. Serve immediately with the fried cassava crackers and cucumber slices on the side.
Note Cassava crackers are available at Asian grocers; prawn crackers or deep-fried wonton skins work well, too. For sugar syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to the boil, then cool. Chinkiang black vinegar, a black rice vinegar, and Lao Gan Ma chilli oil, a blend of oil, chilli flakes and peanuts, are available from Asian grocers. This recipe is from Mr Hong ($49.99, hbk), published by Murdoch Books and has been reproduced with GT style changes.
Drink Suggestion: A juicy, light- to medium-bodied red. My pick: Jean Foillard Fleurie from Beaujolais. Drink suggestion by Franck Moreau