Rory says: This is a great combination of flavours and textures to combine with an extravagant fillet of beef. The amount of beef is scant, but there is so much else going on with the salad leaves and herbs, that I find it to be sufficient.
The sauce, dressing and salad leaves can be prepared in advance, so the final assembly is pretty straightforward. The tingling tastes in this dish are both delicious and refreshing.
- Fillet of beef is the tenderest cut of beef and is best served somewhat rare. It dries out considerably if cooked to well done, but you must have it just as you like it.
- The salad leaves should include one crisp type of lettuce such as "little gem".
- If possible get peanuts with their skins on for the peanut sauce, as the skins add a depth of flavour. Please do not be tempted to use roasted salted peanuts for the sauce. It will be disgusting.
- The chilli in the Asian dressing should be quite hot, such as a "Serrano", but taste a tiny bit of the one you are using before adding to the dressing, and then add it in according to the preferences and heat threshold of your guests. When tasting a raw chilli, taste a tiny bit from the fat middle of the chilli. This is the part of the chilli that gives an accurate indication of the overall heat of the chilli you are using. Chilies of the same variety can vary in heat, so tasting is really the best way to find out what the true heat is. The chilli fiends might like to use a "bird’s eye" chilli here. Don’t be too timid with the chilli, but there is no advantage to having the dressing so hot that it is uncomfortable to eat
- 500-600g fillet of beef, trimmed of all gristle
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil for rubbing on the beef fillet
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 handfuls of mixed greens such as rocket, mizuna, little gem and watercress
- 1 handful of mint and coriander leaves mixed
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle
Roast Peanut Sauce
- 100g unskinned peanuts
- 1 tablespoon peanut or sunflower oil
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 80 ml chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 200c / 400f / gas 6.
- Place the peanuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Shake the pan occasionally to ensure that the nuts are browning evenly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Blissfully, the nuts do not need to be peeled. While the nuts are roasting, dry roast the cumin seeds briefly and grind to a fine powder.
- Place the cold nuts in a food processor with the ground cumin and puree to a thick consistency with the water and oil.
- Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and add to the peanut puree. The consistency should be similar to pouring cream. Taste and correct seasoning. Reserve for later.
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped ginger
- 1 level tablespoon of very finely chopped garlic
- 2 fresh chillies, deseeded and very finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons soft dark brown sugar
- 1 level teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- salt to taste
- Mix all of the dressing ingredients together, taste and correct seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 220c / 425f / gas 7.
- To assemble the salad, heat a heavy grill pan or roasting tin. The pan should be nearly smoking hot before adding the beef. Rub the fillet of beef with the olive oil and add it to the pan. Allow it to brown all over, turning it occasionally to achieve an even colour. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place in the oven and roast for 15 - 20 minutes. Use the "skewer test" to ascertain how cooked it is. Remove from the tin and place it on a small plate which you have turned over so it is the wrong way up, and this plate should sit on a larger plate. This allows any juices that escape from the meat to drain off and be saved for later.
- Let the meat rest for 15 minutes in the oven with the temperature reduced to 100c / 200f / gas ¼.
- When ready to serve, toss the salad leaves and herbs in a large oversized bowl with just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten lightly. Place on hot plates or a platter.
- Slice the beef into 1 cm thick slices and lay over the leaves. Drizzle on a little of the peanut sauce over the beef, but not too much. Add any meat juices from the resting plate as well.
- Add a final flourish of sliced spring onions and serve immediately, passing the extra peanut sauce in a sauceboat.