I have a couple of signature dishes, things I’ve been making ever since I learnt to cook and have fed my friends for years. If I could only pick one though, this would be it. There’s just something about the rich and silky sauce that just warms my heart (and my tummy!). And not just the strog that I cook. My favourite ever strog was from the Hong Kong Football Club away back when I was sulky teenager in the 70’s, and then Jimmy’s Kitchen (also in Hong Kong). The two dishes were so similar that I’m still convinced Jimmy’s knicked the HKFC’s chef!
There must a dozen variations, and then some, on how to cook this though. I remember having a pretty lengthy discussion with a friend at school about whether it should or shouldn’t have paprika, and whether the sauce should be beige or orange (it was an all girl’s school, so it wasn’t like we had any boys to talk about…). A recent article over at lovefood.com looks at even more ways to make this, as well as its history, and how it’s not Russian but French.
This is also my ex-flatmate’s favourite, who I used to catch eating the leftovers cold, off the serving ladle, straight out of the pot! I took it as a compliment, and still cook it for him when he visits 🙂
As to why it’s my favourite… did I mention the rich and silky sauce, or “jup”, a Chinese catch-all word for all things saucey and gravy that you will ALWAYS hear my family asking for more of, including Hubby (I suspect that may have been the first Chinese word he picked up from us!) And the fat little bites of succulent mushroom. And the melt in the mouth tender strips of steak. And… and… do you really need any more reasons than that?
And now for a wee health warning… This dish shines because it’s cooked in butter. Full fat, tasty, butter. You can use cooking oil instead, but prepare to be totally underwhelmed if you do because oil is not a satisfying substitute for butter. I’m just saying.
As a note on the serving size, I’ve noted that this feeds four, and it happily will. Three, if you’re feeding hungry people. Or, if my ex-flatmate is involved… two. At a push.
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 1 packet chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- Rump steak, thinly sliced
- 1 beef stock cube / stock pot
- 1/2 pint hot water
- 2-3 tbsp tomato puree
- 2-3 heaped tbsps sour cream/creme fraiche
- Juice of one lemon
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp English mustard powder (Colman’s)
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Butter for cooking
- Boiled rice
- Slice up the onion, I think chunkier onion slices work best with this sauce so don’t fret if they’re not cheftasticly thin. Same goes for the mushrooms, wipe them clean and then slice them so that you get four thick slices per shroom.
- Slice the rump steak up, but unlike the veg, slice thinly.
- Then mix together the flour, mustard powder and a generous grinding of black pepper in a bowl and roll the steak pieces in it until they are all well coated. Set aside for 15-30 minutes.
- In a large frying pan, or wok, melt some butter over a medium heat and then fry the onion until its translucent.
- Add the mushrooms, and a sprinkle of salt, and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Then remove the onions and mushrooms to a plate, and return the wok to the heat with some more butter.
- When the butter starts to bubble, shake the excess flour/mustard from the steak before adding and turn up the heat. Don’t worry if some of the loose flour/mustard goes in as it will help thicken the sauce, you just don’t want all of the flour/mustard leftovers in there.
- The steak will initially stick together, in which case a meat fork or chopsticks are really helpful to shoogle the steak up and separate the pieces. Treat this like a stir fry and brown the steak off quickly to keep it tender.
- When the steak is browned off (I like to stop while it's still pink in the middle) turn the heat down to medium and add the tomato puree, stirring it in so that it coats all the steak pieces. Give it a minute or two before adding the vegetables back in. Put the kettle on at this point, and when its boiled pour half a pint’s worth over a stock cube, and then pour it into the pan to cover the steak and veg mix. Stir well before turning the heat back up.
- When the liquid starts to bubble up, turn the heat down again so that the sauce is gently simmering. Taste, and season with salt if required, and then leave it to simmer away for 10 minutes.
- After the 10 minutes is up, add the lemon juice, stir through and then take the pan off the heat. Stir in the sour cream (or creme fraiche) before dishing up generously over boiled rice.
- Sprinkle with parsley if you’re poshing it up 😉 and then tuck in!