06 July 2013

lime & honey venison with a thai salad

I noticed that my last few posts were all sweet stuff, so decided that it has about time to do something savoury.  The problem with savoury is that often it's dinner and by the time the cooking is done, it's dark and I've lost any natural lighting.  Plus a lot of the time I just want to cook, serve, sit and hoover it all down.  It's not until halfway through the meal that I'd go "Awww man! Forgot to take photos"!

I've also been meaning to post up more on the kind of Asian dishes that I'd cook and eat at home - not so much like what you'd get at the cheap and cheerful round the corner.  But usually with this kind of cooking, I often just freestyle it because I've been cooking these dishes for years and I suppose I now just do it without much thought.  Writing down method and measurements is not anywhere in my thoughts at all...until it's too late.

So when I got my hands on some well priced venison at the Food Show a while ago, I decided that I must remember to jot down notes and take some photos as I go along.  Even then, I only ended up with three usable photos!  There simply was no time for food styling since our venison dinner would be ruined if it wasn't eaten right away.

I had a very clear idea on what I wanted to do with the venison - flavour but without too much fuss.  I've used this marinade succesfully with chicken and pork in the past, so decided to try it with venison. Am glad to say it worked!

You could pair the venison with whatever you like; potatoes, polenta, slaw and even a basmati rice (Ottolenghi-style would suit well here).  But I decided to have it with a side of Thai-inspired salad.  It is a perfectly light salad but packed with awesome flavour from the dressing, and went well with the lime and honey marinated meat.

Pretty, artful or careful plating is not my forte at all.  I haven't got the patience for it and usually whenever I do try it, it would take me so long to get it right that the food would get cold.  Perhaps my culinary planets were aligned the day I made this dish, but I was able to do that slant slicing then fan out on the plate perfectly and quickly.  Even the small mound of salad stood nicely poised next to venison.  Usually it's just plonked down.

Although I don't think anyone should get used to this kind of neat plating from me - I assure you it's an anomaly!  Well if it tastes good (I am talking about in a home setting), who cares how it's plated right?

Talking about plates...now that I've got my tickets sorted for Wellington On a Plate, I've also made a wee burger hit list for Burger Wellington.  Check 'em out here!

Lime and Honey Venison

220g Venison steaks
Juice of 1 lime
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
5 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together well and marinade the steaks in it for 15mins.
  2. Keep a plate warm (not hot!) on the side for resting your venison later. 
  3. Heat a heavy pan, stove top grill or bbq to medium-high heat and cook each side of the venison for 2-3 mins.  The meat will darken quite a bit and caramelise because of the honey, but don't worry.  Just as long as it's not burnt.  I cooked mine on a cast iron pan and made sure not to move the meat when it's cooking until its full 3 mins per side, which prevented the meat from sticking to the pan.
  4. Once cooked, remove the venison onto the warmed plate, cover with aluminium and rest for 5mins.
  5. Slice the rested venison on an angle and serve with your favourite sides.  If the juices on the plate from the rested venison is still warm, I would normally drizzle it over the sliced meat.
Thai-inspired Salad recipe here.

thai-inspired salad

I made this Thai-inspired salad a while ago and had it with some lime and honey marinated venison.  Since then, I've made this salad several times and it pretty much goes with anything.

Don't let what looks like a long list of ingredients put you off.  It's actually really easy to prepare and quick to put together - no cooking required!  Once you get the hang of it, you could mix it up a little with what vegetables you use for the salad and you could up the chilli count if you like it with a bigger hit.

Thai-inspired Salad

Thai Salad Dressing
2 stalks of coriander, use both leaves and stalks
1 thumb length ginger, peeled
1 whole red chilli - remove seeds and white membrane inside if you don't want it too hot
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup lightly roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Blitz all the ingredients except the peanuts together in a food processor until well mixed and the sugar melts.  All coriander, ginger and chilli should be processed until minced but not a paste.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Lightly dry roast the peanuts in a frying pan and then roughly blitz into small chunks, or chop with a knife if you prefer or do not have a processor.  Set aside.
1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber - peeled alternative strips, cut into 1/4 lengthwise and then across into chunks
1/2 small red onion - very thinly sliced
1/2 head lettuce, sliced thinly - I used romain/cos but you can also use iceberg
1 large carrot, grated rough not fine
125g mung bean sprouts
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix it well with your hands.  Don't worry if you bruise the vegetables a little.
To serve - liberally scatter the roasted peanuts over the dressed salad, and serve!