BEEF TATAKI WITH PONZU
When it comes to beef tenderloin, less is more. It’s an incredibly lean, soft, flavourful cut of meat, so you really don’t want to overcook or over-season it. Given that it’s the centerpiece of fillet mignon, it’s obviously a great steak. It’s also SUPER pricey.
Fortunately, you can take a small quantity of beef fillet and turn it into something absolutely spectacular.
Tataki means ‘pounded’ in Japanese, a reference to a preparation method that involves thinly slicing meat and pounding it flat, not unlike carpaccio. But the term is also applied to meats like tuna and beef fillet that start out tender. These are simply seared and served with a dipping sauce (like ponzu).
The flavours used to make this tataki are bold and varied, but they compliment the beef, rather than overpowering it. There’s a little heat from the shichimi togarashi and the black pepper, brightness from the citrus in the ponzu, and layers of umami thanks to the beef, powdered mushroom, and the aforementioned dipping sauce. The onions and radishes add a bit of crunch with enough bite to hold up against the other ingredients. Best of all, the whole thing is incredibly simple to put together.
I was tempted to tag this as a ‘reduced meat’ recipe, but that seemed a little odd, given that the focus of the dish is steak. But when you really look at it, this is a great way to treat yourself to a high quality meat without overdoing it (financially or gastronomically). I can’t think of a lot of meat-centric meals that can get away with serving less than 150 g (5.3 oz) per person, but this meal doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing a thing.
Beef tataki with ponzu makes a spectacular dinner for two (as served in the picture below), or a very high-end but surprisingly affordable appetizer for 8, as shown in the header image above.
To make this dish come together quickly, you need two things ready-to-go. First, you need a good ponzu. I can’t stress enough that you don’t want a cheap, salty ponzu. Tataki dipped in a simple soy sauce will be utterly overwhelmed by salt. Take the time to make it from scratch, or find a very good quality one that uses dashi as a base. Second, you need the powdered shiitake mushrooms. This might sound like an obscure ingredient, but it’s actually just a simple DIY item. Dried shiitake mushrooms, which are normally rehydrated and used whole or chopped, are readily available at any Asian grocery store. Simply take 2 or 3 of these mushrooms, remove the stems, and grind the caps in a spice grinder or food processor. The resulting powder is great for adding a savoury flavour to dishes, and it stores well in a spice jar.
As for the watermelon radishes, they look spectacular, but they’re also a nice blend of crunchy and mildly peppery. If you can’t find them, daikon or regular (red) radish would work well, though their peppery taste may be a little bit stronger.
No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
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