Cinnamon Ginger Flank Steak and Raspberry Shrub

I can be, on occasion, a complete and total carnivore. I love red meat. A good steak, grilled just past rare? One of my favorite meals. Unfortunately due to the quality or price of available meat here, I find that I don’t eat too much steak. It’s just not very economical. Ground beef, or small pieces cut into sauce, yes, but rarely an actual steak. So when I was at April Gourmet’s to pick up a loaf of bread and my eye caught a tray of red, gleaming flank steak, I didn’t even try to fight temptation.

I purchased a small piece, just enough for two servings for me, which cost RMB45. Flank steak is one of those cuts of meat where a long marinating process does a world of good for flavor and texture. But I was occupied by Firefly and I completely forgot about it. So after work Monday, I whipped up a very quick marinade. I pounded together a large clove of garlic and a thumb of ginger with my pestle and mortar. Then I added in a clove, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, a dash of sugar, salt and pepper, and a very light dusting of red chili powder. This forms into a thick paste. Rub this into every nook and cranny, and let sit 6 hours to overnight. Or, in my case, cheat and add a little acid to the mix. I poured in a few drops of Maggi seasoning, some soy sauce and Shaoxing cooking wine. Shake it all up in a plastic bag, and let sit in the fridge (put on the countertop 30 minutes before cooking, to let it come to room temp) for as much time as you can wait to eat dinner.

In the meantime, I cut up sweet potatoes and baked sweet potato fries, put on a pot of rice, and made a batch of raspberry and cherry shrub.

After the wedding cake weekend, I found myself with a box of leftover raspberries that weren’t particularly sweet, and a bowl of cherries that I had bought as a back up in case I didn’t find any strawberries. They were Chinese cherries, and not particularly sweet or red, either. I had recently come across a article on preserving cherries and making berry shrubs. I thought I might give it a shot.

The night before, I mixed about a cup of cherries and a cup of vinegar (a mix of white and white wine vinegar) in one bowl, and a cup of raspberries and vinegar in a separate bowl (just white wine vinegar). I mashed them as best I could with the crappy fork I own (a potato masher would have been useful), then stuck the bowls in the fridge. Remember to cover your bowls, or your entire fridge will smell like vinegar, which isn’t the most appetizing scent first thing in the morning. Give it a stir every now and then. The raspberries mushed up perfectly and was a beautiful red ruby gem color. The cherries didn’t macerate as nicely, and the vinegar was more garnet.

Raspberry and Cherry macerating in vinegar

Stir up the vinegar fruit mix, and then strain into a pot. Discard the solid stuff.
Add an equal amount of sugar to the amount of liquid—it should be about a cup, maybe a little more. Bring it to a boil on low heat, and then let it boil for five or so minutes.

Raspberry Shrub

Cherry Shrub

I poured these into the empty vinegar bottle and an empty jam jar, and they are beautiful rose colored syrups. They smell quite tart and astringent from the vinegar, but the taste is milder than the smell. Mix with soda water or sparkling water, and it’s a very refreshing, none-too-sweet fruit soda. also probably adaptable for cocktails, but I haven’t come up with any yet.

Back to the steak. After letting it marinate for as long as I could humanely wait, I seared it in pan for about a minute per side, then popped into the oven at a broil for about 4 minutes per side. Then I let it sit for five minutes.

Having incredible restraint and letting the meat rest before devouring.

Slice against the grain. The thinner half was done medium, the thicker piece was perfectly pink. Juicy, flavorful, and freaking amazing.

Flank Steak Salad

The next day, with the second portion, I made a salad with lettuce, cherry tomato, dried cranberries, almonds, apple slices and cucumber, and balsamic vinegar pearls witha bit of agar-agar powder. Fill a tall water glass with oil, and stick it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Pour 25 grams of balsamic vinegar and 1 1/2 grams of agar agar powder into a saucepan, whisk away and bring to a boil. Let it cool down may 5, 10 minutes, then, either using a dropper or a plastic squeeze bottle, drop vinegar into the cold oil. It should set by the time it sinks to the bottom of the glass. Remove them from the oil and store in water, so as not to crowd the glass and make to oil too warm. I tossed everything with a vinaigrette of 1 Tbs lemon juice, a splash of white vinegar, shallot, olive oil, salt, soy sauce, pepper, and dried herbs.

Making Balsamic Vinegar Pearls. Very hard to photograph and make at the same time.


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