Having been a vegetarian at least for parts of my young (?) existence (despite growing up in a carnivorous country, meat was rarely served in my family, at least by Austrian standards, and I turned wholly vegetarian after a bad bout of food poisoning in Mexico, only reluctantly giving it up when I fell pregnant with my eldest), I still marvel at the 360-degree turns one can make... in my late teens and early tweens, I easily gagged at the sight of meat whereas lately, the thought of having a big juicy steak is one that can keep me going for an entire week if I know that a visit to the Borough Market is due and I might be lucky and snatch some fillet at the stall of the lovely people who sell their Devon-reared wild beef.
There is no dish that has been more of a constant in our married life than fillet steak and no other dish has gone through as many incarnations as this. In the 90s, we were trying to perfect a cream sauce, simply with green pepper, or a red wine or portwine reduction (with some disastrous and expensive experiments in the area), early in this decade we leaned more towards thick, herby sauces in the style of a pesto (coriander and rocket being a firm favourite) or a guacamole-inspired avocado number. It was only lately that we discovered a new addiction that grabbed our attention in an entirely different context and at the moment, we can't have steak without it. Chimichurri. I don't even remember how an innocent tupperware of the stuff ended up in my kitchen - it must have been my friend Sonia, spaniard married to a Chilean, who brought it along... I really can't remember the occasion. But like a BoneyM song (though WAY more pleasant) that just sticks in your head and you can't help but hum along to it all day long, it must have been racing around my dear little brain for weeks until I finally decided to read up on it and have a go myself.
An hour later, we're having dinner and enjoy a whole new taste-experience packed with fresh coriander, garlic and chilli (a combination I could not resist, no matter how hard I tried) and it instantly wins a firm place in our repertoire: not just with steak, it also cuts through oily fish like a treat, we've had left-overs of it for an aperitif (dunk into it with some fluffy bread) and it livens up any plate of our weekly vegetables-left-over-from-our-organic-box medley... so quick to make and so satisfying, this is a sauce we'll definitely carry over into the coming year, if not the next decade!
Happy New Year, everyone, to a joy-filled 2009 and some great culinary highlights!
(serves 4 as a steak accompaniment)
1 bunch (ca. 60 g) fresh coriander or parsley*
1 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic
60 ml olive oil
40 ml red wine vinegar
30 ml water
½ red chilli (seeded, de-veined and finely diced)
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika (i.e. sundried, but unsmoked)
1 tbsp course sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
Chop the coriander, red onion and garlic finely in a food processor. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and leave to infuse in a cool place for at least half an hour.
Serve with grilled meat or fish, roast chicken or whatever takes your fancy, really.
* I definitely prefer the cilantro/coriander version, but you should really experiment and find your own, favourite herb.