Monday 25 January 2016

A lighter Lunch

Vietnamesse Wraps closeup    
I am a bit lazy about lunch. I often tend to skip breakfast. Yes, I know is healthy living violation number one, but I am just not a breakfast person. Two big cups of decaf coffee is all I can stomach first thing in the morning. But often I have to work through lunch as well and then just as my blood sugar hits an all time low, I usually opt for a much larger bowl than necessary of granola, packed with nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, as we all know, Granola is also packed with sugar. The second ingredient on my Simply Nut Granola by Dorset Cereals, is golden syrup. Not exactly an ingredient I would associate with health, although Tate and Lyle had other ideas. 

 Isn’t it amazing how perceptions have changed. Can you imagine a child after a daily dose of Golden Syrup particularly after the recommended bedtime snack as well, of even more golden syrup stirred into a glass of milk? The advice in this book reminds me of some of the other suggestions in vintage cookbooks, extolling the virtues of cigarettes and opium. It does make you wonder what guidance given out now, will be scoffed at in the future.

Anyway, this weeks recipe makes a really quick and easy lunch and is one of those when you manage to somehow conjure up a delicious meal from almost nowhere. All I had left in the fridge was a lettuce, some carrots and a cucumber and a left over piece of fillet steak. 

We can learn a lot from Asian recipes as they have long understood that meat and fish are costly and they know how to make expensive ingredients go along way, padded out with plenty of cheaper and healthier vegetables.  Although the list of ingredients often looks long and complicated, it really is store cupboard stuff and it really could not be quicker and easier to make and a whole lot less calories than Granola.

Vietnamese Wraps
Vietnamese Lettuce and Beef Wraps
You can make the dipping sauce and marinade the meat the day before.

For the marinade
1 fillet steak
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 tsp caster sugar
1-1½ tsp toasted sesame oil, to taste

For the dipping sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar, to taste
1 tsp. golden caster sugar, to taste
1 tbsp. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 stick lemongrass
1 lime, juice only
1 fresh red chilli

For the wraps
1 carrot, cut into fine julienne strips or grated
½ cucumber
3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and chopped
½ small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
1 lettuce such as Batavia or baby gem

Lime wedges, to serve

For the marinade, put the steak into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix until coated evenly. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if possible.

Meanwhile make the dipping sauce. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together. Finely chop the red chilli. If you like it hot then leave the seeds in, if not remove them. Remove any tough outer leaves from the lemongrass and trim the bottom. Grate using a microplaner starting at the bottom and grating until nearly three quarters of the way up. (If you do not have a microplaner, chop very finely). Add with the chilli to your dipping sauce and taste. Adjust the flavours as necessary – adding a little more sugar if it’s too sour, or more rice vinegar or lime juice if too sweet.

Next peel and grate your carrots and cut your cucumber into julienne. A mandolin is good for this. Separate and wash the salad leaves and leave to drain. Pick the leaves off the herbs.

In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat a dash of oil. Shake off any excess marinade from the steaks and cook for 2-3 minutes on either side – depending on their thickness and how rare you like your steak. Tip over the marinade and remove and rest on a plate for five minutes.

To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving plate. Fill the lettuce leaves with carrot and cucumber. Add a small handful of herbs. Slice the rested steak, and top each leaf with a slice or two of steak, tipping any resting juices over the top. Serve with the dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.

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