I'm not a big fan of rules.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of anarchist or anything. I do believe in the rules that govern a civil society, and I'm not by any stretch a bad boy that flaunts our society's rules, or think myself above the consequences of breaking them.
It's food rules that I have a problem with.
Like the rule that states you should only drink white wine, and never red, when eating fish or seafood. Or the rule that states you should adhere to strict seasonal guidelines when menu planning, and NEVER eat an "off-season" meal, like a hearty braise, in the summer. Now, I'm all for seasonal eating, and make every effort to gorge myself on our local bounty when in season, but if I feel like eating braised beef short ribs in the middle of July, I'm going to do it, thank you very much.
So, now that you know where I stand on food rules, let me tell you about a dish that breaks one of the silliest ones. You know the one I mean, its the "only serve sweet salsas with chicken or fish" rule, and as you're about to learn, it's just plain wrong. I know some of you are sneering at the thought of a fruit salsa being served with beef, I saw that reaction first-hand the other night, as Boris gave me the hairy eyeball when I asked him to help me pull this dish together for dinner. You're thinking that only savory salsas like a pico de gallo or chimichurri will work with beef, but stick with me here, because we're about to get all bad-ass and break a rule.
As with most things in life (and food) there are few absolutes, and that definitely applies to this condiment. The fact is, this salsa IS terrific with chicken and seafood, but what makes it such a winning pairing with the beef is the spicy, smoked-tea rub we put on the steak. The sweet-hot mango salsa is the perfect foil for the earthy smokiness of the beef rub, it is a match made in heaven…trust me. And what's better is that the tea rub is a beautiful thing on chicken and fish, in fact those of you who have been with us for a while may recognize the rub from this Ming Tsai salmon dish that we posted a few months back.
SO….here you have a salsa recipe that is great with chicken, fish AND this tea-rubbed steak, and you also have a tea-rub that is terrific on the steak but also works with fish or chicken. Holy $#!%, this is a serious WIN-WIN-WIN, don't you think?
And to think, all it took was a little rule breaking.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 large , ripe mangoes peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 green jalapeno, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon sambal (chili paste)
- 1 tablespoon, peeled and finely minced fresh ginger
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Five-Spice Chile Tea Rub
- 3 cups lapsang souchong tea leaves
- 1/2 cup sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 cup red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup chipotle chile powder
- 1/2 cup dehydrated garlic or regular garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 1/4 cup cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup dried chives or onions
- 1/4 cup five-spice powder
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Five-Spice Chile Tea Rub
- *This recipe makes a LOT of tea rub. Feel free to halve, or even quarter the recipe if you desire. Store leftover rub in a ziploc bag in your freezer, where it will last practically forever. Note: Bulk tea leaves will generally be coarser and will therefor give you and more textured / crunchy coating on the steak. Tea pulled from tea bags will be finer and leave you with a smoother rub.
For the steak:
- Generously rub both sides of your steak with the tea rub, and grill to your desired degree of doneness. Tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.