It's true that they say that you can't choose family but you can choose your friends. I'd say that the same rule applies that you can't choose your work colleagues, particularly if you work for someone else. I recently saw one of my old colleagues from many years ago when I was a media assistant. He was known for one thing among us and that was this very odd habit of licking his lips lasciviously as he talked. I'm not talking the occasional nervous tongue darting out but his tongue has its own identity and it's own post code and I think it even received its own mail. I was sure that he was raised by snakes.
To make matters worse, his best friend in the office and partner in much crime was another man who loved cupping his hands together and wringing them as if he were plotting the world's most dastardly plot. So much so that when Kris Kringle rolled around one year, someone bought him hand cream and gloves to try and deter him from the habit. And when the two of them walked towards you, one with his tongue writhing and the other with his hands wringing, you felt as if you would be at the very least molested. Admittedly, neither of them were sleazy or awful people, in fact they were quite friendly and apart from those two nervous tics, quite pleasant. But it didn't stop our eyes widening and our spines stiffening every time they approached in unison.
But there are times when you can't help but lick your lips. While I was cooking this dish was one. I had never heard of Salpicao before reading Midge's delicious sounding recipe but when I saw that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry and the beef in my freezer, I wanted to make it right away. It was so simple that you could conceivably have it on the table in about 30 minutes flat if you marinated it for 20 minutes.
I plated this up and gave it to Mr NQN who devoured it quickly. He is usually a bit slower to eat meat heavy dishes as he grew up vegetarian but this proved no obstacle. The second time I made this, I served it with garlic buttered rice that I served at Christmas. Obviously I have no fear of garlic and this is strong in it but if you're trying to ward off a cold, it might be a good dish for you with that amount of garlic. I also wanted to make it with vegetables so I substituted half of the beef with sliced mushrooms and it was a meal in one. So whilst you can't choose your colleagues or family, you can choose your dinner and how to eat it!
And yes when I saw my colleague, he still licked his lips!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you sometimes feel like the most normal person in your workplace? And do you like garlic?
300g/10 ozs. beef tenderloin
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oil
2 large chillies (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon butter
boiled rice to serve or garlic rice*see recipe below
Step 1 - Slice beef into cubes and place in a bowl. Chop garlic cloves and add these to the bowl along with the black pepper, salt and sesame oil and toss to combine. Marinate for 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, mix the Worcestershire, oyster and soy sauces together in a small bowl.
Step 2 - Heat a frypan or wok on high heat and wait until smoking hot. Add the oil and fry the beef and seasonings for a few minutes until browned. Add the chillies and the sauces and fry coating the beef with the sauces.
Step 3 - Remove the pan from the heat. Mix the cornflour and water slurry (it often settles at the bottom) and add this to the sauce to thicken it. Add the butter to the pan and toss to coat the beef. Serve over the rice.
2.5 cups chicken stock, hot
4 teaspoons chicken stock powder
100g/3.5 ozs. butter
1.5 cups jasmine or basmati rice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Step 1 - Dissolve the chicken powder in the hot chicken stock. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then top with the stock and rice and turn down the heat and place the lid on the pan tightly so that the liquid evaporates. After about 10 minutes, it should have disappeared. Stir around the rice moving the rice from the top to the bottom and add the garlic in and keep the lid on for another 5 or 10 minutes.
2. To shape the rice as shown, oil a shallow bowl and press rice firmly into the bowl using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to flatten. Place the serving plate on top and then upturn and remove the shallow bowl and the rice should come out as shown.