I suppose what’s a grand meal for one can be a simple meal for another. When I think of a meal for celebration and a meal to impress, I think as important, if not more that the appearance and the time and ingredients it takes the cook to prepare, it must be flavourful. It must not tire the cook out to the extent that he or she can not be part of a relaxed evening or afternoon, enjoying that meal.
I have had the privilege of eating meals where textures are a combination of liquid and solid, where solids give way to a burst of liquid passion fruit or liquified olives and the senses leap with surprise and joy. Meals composed of the most meticulously made sauces (never called gravy!) etched in stipes and arcs so fine and neat you marvel at the ability of the talented human hand. Meals where the ingredients beg that you clap your hands in applause and where you can’t wipe the grin off your face. These meals have been prepared by culinary artists who understand flavour, the produce and that the price tag attached to the menu demands nothing less than perfection. If not more.
My meal of Asian style ostrich served on ginger sweet potato rosti with veggies in an Asian dressing isn’t about taking you to the next level of culinary superstardom. It is about showcasing ingredients simply but with emphasis on flavour. It uses ingredients you can easily find at a good supermarket and uses a meat (poultry, actually) I’ve been preparing for years and that I find many people still hesitate to use. Ostrich, local, low in fat and certainly lekker. The fillet is not an everyday piece of meat, so make this when you want to spoil your someone special.
This is a meal for two and perfect for a date night in.
Asian Style Ostrich on Ginger Sweet potato Rosti
2 x 200 g ostrich fillets
2 T oyster sauce
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 T sesame seeds, lightly toasted
For the Rosti
400 ml sweet potato, washed, skin on and grated on coarse side of grater (I used orange fleshed ones)
2 T finely grated fresh ginger
1 T wasabi paste
1/4 t white pepper
20 ml self raising flour
20 ml corn flour (maizena)
salt, to taste
For the Vegetables in Asian Style Dressing:
1 cup baby corn and mange tout, steamed for 2 minutes
2 T ponzu
1/2 lime squeezed
1 T sesame oil
1 t fresh ginger, finely grated
1 T honey
salt, to taste
Allow the fillets to rest at room temperature.
Mix the oyster sauce and chilli in a saucer or shallow dish and set aside.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together with a small whisk or fork. Taste and adjust accordingly.
Dress warm veggies.
For the Rosti:
Steam the grated sweet potato in a suitable container in the microwave for 3 minutes. You want it to soften but not turn mushy.
Spread evenly on a tray and allow to cool in a ventilated area. This prevents stickiness.
In a bowl, mix all the rosti ingredients, including the sweet potato. Season well.
Shape into small, flat patties. You can decide how big or small you’d like them.
In a non-stick pan on medium-high heat, add oil.
Fry the patties, pressing down with a spatula or lifter to brown.
Flip each rosti over carefully and brown the other side.
Drain on paper towels and keep warm in warmer drawer if possible.
Place fillets in oyster sauce chilli marinade for 20 seconds a side. You don’t want to allow the salt of the marinade to draw out the moisture and dry out the meat.
Heat a pan on medium high and add 2 T olive oil.
Fry the steaks till required doneness is achieved. Ostrich should not be cooked beyond the “medium” stage, as the meat toughens up.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, allow to rest for a minute and then slice. The seeds may attach to the knife, sprinkle more on the top of the slices when you serve.
Arrange ostrich slices on warm sweet potato rosti and serve with vegetables in Asian style dressing.