Aside from rich, luscious Indonesian food, there are three other dishes that remind me intensely of my childhood. The first dish would have to be tonkatsu (a Japanese curry served with crumbed pork or chicken over rice), second would be spicy lamb borek (a sort of Turkish sausage roll) , and the third would be beef stroganoff (like a chicken fricassee but with beef – and it’s Russian). After moving to Australia, my social butterfly of a mother became intrigued by the multiculturalism in Melbourne. She made a lot of friends from different ethnic backgrounds whilst waiting for me and my sister to run out of class every day after school. And being ever so talkative (despite speaking in broken English during her first few years here) she quickly collected a posse of friends who became regular attendees to her over-the-top barbecues, afternoon teas and picnics.
My mother was also an avid cook, therefore she spent a lot of time enquiring about the food her friends often brought along to her parties.
“What is in this dish? I can taste something…is it tarragon?”
“How long do you cook this for?”
“What cut of meat do you use for this?”
She didn’t know the words for certain things – for example tarragon – and would ask my dad how to translate what she knew it to be in Indonesian. Aduh apa ini dalam bahasa Inggris? Seperti kemangi ya?
That was when my young tastebuds really had to adjust.
Mother became experimental. She wanted to cook Japanese food. She wanted us to use chopsticks. Here, try this – it’s called bonito. Now tonight – lets eat with roti instead of cutlery. Now lets try polenta to replace a carb. She met up with her friends and got recipes off them for bulgogi, paella, bun bo hue, mandu, matzah balls, borscht – at 7 years old, I didn’t even know how to pronounce half of these dishes.
Her favourite things to cook were the tonkatsu, borek and beef stroganoff, I think partially because they were so quick to whip up and could fill the tummies of everyone in the family cheaply. One day, I was at the gym and this rather bleak documentary about the origins beef stroganoff was being aired on the food network (trust me to be on the treadmill watching the food network). A wave of nostalgia came over me as the show’s host droned on and on about the multiple varieties of stroganoff bases worldwide, and suddenly I was at the market almost compulsively picking up ingredients for beef stroganoff.
This recipe variation is for a friendlier-for-the-waistline stroganoff that is paired with beautiful, earthy roast asparagus to compliment the mushrooms and the deep umami flavour of the sauce. The ingredients are quite easy to find given the right season, and the whole thing is quite quick to whip up – perfect for a midweek meal. I like to serve this with buttery pappardelle ribbons or brown rice/cauliflower rice. The trick to this dish is to use a Chinese method called “velveting” on the meat before cooking it. This ensure tender beef strips that melt in your mouth and soak up more of that rich stroganoff sauce.
Happy feasting, and do mind your table manners.
Lightened up “velvet” beef stroganoff with oven roasted asparagus
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Beef Stroganoff Ingredients
- 800 grams of beef sirloin, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- 1/4 cup of water
- 5 cups crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup king brown mushrooms, sliced
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 1 cup of salt reduced beef broth
- salt to taste
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups of light sour cream
- Cooked pappardelle or rice to serve
- Handful of parsley, chopped to garnish
- 2 large bunches of thick stalked asparagus
- 1 tablespoon of fleur de sel
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
- Preheat your oven to 218C.
- Wash asparagus and snap each stalk in two with your hands. Where the asparagus stalk snaps off and breaks is where the woody ends start. Discard the woody ends and set aside asparagus whilst waiting for the oven to heat.
- Place the sliced beef into a bowl and massage in the baking soda and 1/4 cup of water, let it sit for at least 15 minutes to tenderise.
- When the oven is hot, place the asparagus on a baking dish lined with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the fleur de sel and herbs de provence over them, and place into oven to roast for roughly 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy bottom pan and sauté onions on low heat until golden. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes. The mushrooms will look like they are dry for a minute or two but they will soften and release their juices, so avoid adding additional liquids here.
- When soft and slightly caramalised, remove the onion, garlic and mushroom mixture and set aside in a bowl for later.
- Rinse the beef to remove as much of the baking soda mixture from the surface, drain, and add to the hot pan. When browned, sprinkle the flour over the beef and stir to thoroughly coat.
- Add the beef stock,Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, wine, and salt to taste. Heat to boiling to cook out the alcohol, then let it simmer for roughly 5-10 minutes covered.
- Check your asparagus. If they are slightly tender and can be poked with a fork, remove from the oven and set aside for serving.
- Remove the lid from pan and check your beef. When the sauce is about a 1/4 reduced, turn the heat back up to medium high and return your cooked onion and mushroom mixture into the pan. Stir everything through for 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat back down to low and stir in the sour cream and the nutmeg, careful not to let it curdle and split.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle the chopped parsley over the beef stroganoff.
- To serve, add a generous ladle of the stroganoff over the pasta or rice, and place a few roasted asparagus on top.
- Asparagus is a spring vegetable, and they literally shoot out of the earth on the first day of spring. If they are not in season, other perfect vegetable pairings for this dish would be roasted carrots, broad beans, or broccoli.
- I purchased my beef from a local bio-dynamic butcher called Belmore Meats for the first time and I instantly fell in love with the place! They are family owned and operated, and all the animals that produce the meats sold here are free range. They are also antibiotic, GMO and growth hormone free. You can find out more about them and their practice here.