The idea for these cherry tomatoes came from a half remembered dish that used to be on the menu at Billy Kwong. It is spicy, rich, oily and tomatoey, and goes perfectly with the charry flavour of meat cooked on a barbecue or charcoal grill. Simple and easy to make, it’s an ideal dish for a summers evening spent outside.
- 200 ml grapeseed oil
- 1½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 200 g diced tomato or tomato pulp
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 300 g cherry tomatoes
- 60 ml (¼ cup) apple cider vinegar
- 800 g hanger steak, trimmed (see Note)
- olive oil, for rubbing
- river salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 140°C.
Place the grapeseed oil in a small saucepan over high heat until you see it start to shimmer. This gives the oil an extra little bit of smoky flavour before you add the other ingredients. Remove the oil from the heat and let it cool for about 8 minutes. If you have a good thermometer, now would be a good time to whip it out. You want the oil to be at about 120–140°C.
Meanwhile, place the chilli flakes and fennel seeds in a small-ish baking dish – you want a nice size that the tomatoes will fit into snugly.
Once the oil is at the right temperature, pour it over the chilli and fennel in the baking dish. It should all start to sizzle a little and release some nice smells – don’t breathe the aroma in too much, though, as it will be a little spicy.
Once the sizzling has calmed down, add the diced tomato and sugar and give it a nice stir. Then add the cherry tomatoes and vinegar, give it a good season with salt only, then roast for 30 minutes.
Once cooked, keep the dish of tomatoes in a warm spot until you are ready to serve.
To cook the steak, bring it to room temperature, rub it with the olive oil and season generously. Preheat a chargrill or barbecue to hot. Cook the steak, turning every so often until it’s cooked to medium-rare. Place the steak somewhere warmish so it can have a little rest before it’s consumed.
Get a large platter and warm it in the oven. Cut the steak against the grain on a diagonal into 3 cm slices and arrange them nicely on the platter. Season with some salt, then get your tomatoes, give them a little stir and spoon them over the top. Pour over the remaining tomato liquid and serve.
• I like to use hanger steak, a cut taken from the diaphragm of a cow, as it has a distinct full flavour that stands up to the chilli from the tomatoes. It’s a cut that’s best cooked to medium-rare; too rare and it is still quite chewy, but cooked for too long and it becomes very dry and unpleasant. However, do feel free to substitute a cut of your choice. I believe the tomatoes would also work well with other types of animals.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd.