Exotic Meats’ Taste Challenge: Wildebeest Fillet Steak Salad with Four-Spiced Chilli Oil

Wildebeest Fillet Salad

To give you an idea of how tasty this Wildebeest Fillet Steak was, I asked my wife halfway through our meal what she thought of the meat. 

“Delicious,” she said. “Is it rump or fillet? It’s got the texture of rump but the flavour of fillet.”

‘Fillet,” I replied. “Wildebeest fillet.”

That’s the joke, you see: she thought she was eating beef. In fact, if I had told her we were having wildebeest for dinner, she’d have flatly refused. And I actually thought she would push her plate away when I told her the truth.

But she didn’t: she devoured the lot, and finished off a little of mine, too.

To be honest, though, the steak – sent to me for review purposes by Alternative Meats – wasn’t really to my taste. My wife was right: it did have the chewy texture of rump beef steak, but also the blandness of an ‘ordinary’ fillet of beef. It was nice – but for my tastebuds, didn’t compare with a well-hung, well-marbled, rare breed beef fillet steak.

However, the dressing I’d prepared to go with it, took the meat to another level.

‘Four-Spiced’ Chilli Oil is a recipe I found in Ching-He Huang’s ‘Chinese Food in Minutes’ cookbook.  It had a heat that started off as subtle as a lit match from half a mile away, which then built to a ferocious furnace that left my tongue numb and gums glowing.  An addictive heat that you can only get from chillies.

I think Ching-He’s idea was to drizzle the lot over cooked beef, but I bottled out at that and sieved the oil into a separate bowl to remove the spices. Otherwise, I think I’d be writing this from hospital.

Serves 2

1 wildebeest fillet steak
1 tbsp sunflower oil

For the chilli oil

4-5 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
4 dried red chillies
Half tsp cloves
Half tsp fennel seeds
2 star anise
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 green chilli, deseeded and bruised in a pestle and mortar
1 tbsp lemon juice
A few pinches of sea salt

To serve: ‘Hot’ mixed salad leaves (I used rocket, baby spinach and watercress) and 1 roasted red pepper, deseeded, peeled and sliced.

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1. Heat a large frying pan until very hot. Rub the wildebeest fillet steak all over with the sunflower oil. Cook in the pan for 3 mins each side. Remove and rest for a couple of minutes.

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2. In the meantime, make the chilli oil by heating a pan until very hot and adding all the ingredients. Stir for a few seconds and turn off the heat. Sieve into a separate bowl (or don’t, if you’re a lunatic).

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3. Arrange the leaves and peppers on a plate. Slice the wildebeest steak very thinly and drape over the salad. Drizzle the oil over the steaks. Serve.

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