Experiment: Grilled Beef and Jicama Salad
Not long ago, I posted a ‘Foodstuffs’ article featuring Jicama and I included links to a couple of recipes for this interesting vegetable I came across at a blog called ‘Sally’s Place’. One was just a very simple method for ‘Grilled Jicama’, while the other was a delicious sounding salad incorporating beef and snow peas. I wanted to try making a salad with the Jicama I purchased when I first wrote my introductory post but I also wanted to try cooking it (having sampled it raw already), and I thought that a fusion of the two recipes might prove interesting…
- ½ lb. good quality Beef steak
- 1 small Jicama (approximately one pound in weight)
- 1 Scallion (green part only)
- ¼ of a small Red Pepper (sweet, not hot)
- 12-16 small Sugarsnap Peas
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. Sesame/Vegetable oil blend
- 2 tbsp. Sugar
- 1 tbsp. Rice Wine
- 2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp. chopped Red Chili
- 1 tsp. Black Sesame Seed
- ½ tsp. minced Ginger
- ½ tsp. Cumin Seed
- Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper (not shown)
The Sesame/Vegetable oil blend I used for this experiment is a Lee Kum Kee product I had on hand but you can reproduce it by mixing equal parts of any neutral vegetable oil with a good quality pure sesame oil.
The sugarsnap peas will need to be prepared by blanching, but first you need to ‘de-string’ them. Grasp the little ‘point’ at the stem-end and snap it, allowing you to pull it away along with the fibrous strings along the hull. If necessary, repeat the operation with the little fibrous protrusion at the other end. Next, blanche the pods by immersing them in boiling salted water for about a minute before plunging them into ice-cold water to arrest the cooking.
As for the beef, you can use any cut you like but I firmly recommend that you use the same sort of top quality piece you would choose to barbecue for a good steak meal. In this case, I used a nice lean strip-loin.
First make up the dressing… Toast the Sesame and Cumin seeds in a dry pan and then put them in a small bowl along with the ginger, chopped chili, a small pinch of salt and pepper, and one tablespoon of the sugar. Blend it well with ¼ cup of the sesame oil blend and the lemon juice and set it aside to marry the flavors for at least one hour before you assemble the salad.
Next, mix the remaining oil and sugar with the Rice Wine in a small bowl and keep it aside to use as a ‘glaze’ for grilling the beef and jicama.
Now you need to peel the Jicama and cut away the tough top and bottom sections as you would with an onion. When this is done, cut down through the curved sides so that you are left with a large ‘cube’ of Jicama and then slice the cube into sections roughly a half-centimeter in thickness. The curved edges that you trim away are not needed for this recipe and you can use them elsewhere. On this occasion, my wife and I enjoyed a little snack of the remnants sliced into wedges and serves with some salsa on the side for dipping…
To grill the Jicama, first sprinkle lightly with salt, and then brush each side with some of the ‘glaze’ made with the Rice wine. Heat a frying pan, preferably a ‘ridged’ one so as to make nice ‘grill marks’, until it is hot enough to vaporize a drop of water instantly and then grill all the sections of Jicama so that they are toasted on the outside but still firm and just barely cooked at the center. If you have a barbecue handy (which I do not at present) then by all means cook the slices on this instead…
The beef gets the same treatment as the Jicama, but in this case, sprinkle the salt on a little bit more liberally before brushing with the glaze. Turn it a couple of times and give each side about three or four minutes so that it ends up cooked medium, or medium-rare. Then, set the meat aside to rest.
Your final preliminary step is to slice the major ingredients attractively. Slice the beef across the grain about a half-centimeter wide and then cut the Jicama slices into similar size strips, making sure you do so at right angles to the grill marks. Cut the red pepper and the scallion into thin slivers.
Finally, toss the main ingredients in a bowl with the reserved dressing and let sit for about 30 minutes or so. Then, plate attractively and serve.
Well, mixed results on this one… I liked the beef well enough but the rest of the salad (including the Jicama) was uninteresting to me. To be fair though, I am not a huge fan of salads in general so my take on the result must be measured in that light. My wife, on the other hand, raved about this salad and she is a pretty reliable critic generally… I can only think, from her response, that the recipe would likely appeal to other people as well…