The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Ridiculously Good Homemade Steak Sauce

July 15th, 2010 · No Comments · Posted in Recipes

The secret ingredient: tamarind

The secret ingredient: tamarind

To cater a small wedding reception, my wife made beef tenderloin and this steak sauce she found at Saveur magazine online. It sounds like a cookie recipe, with allspice, cinnamon and cloves, but the ingredient that really gives this steak sauce its kick is tamarind, jacked up with a little vodka.

The tamarind is a bushy tree, originally from Africa, that produces pods containing seeds the size of large cherries. They have a sweet and sour flavor, oddly enough a bit like steak sauce. It’s a popular ingredient in Latin America and many Latin stores carry not only tamarind seed pods but processed tamarind pulp and a beverage flavored with tamarind. We often see the pods in the exotic fruit section at the local Harris Teeter’s. But not on this occasion, I walked a good piece before finally finding an Hispanic grocery in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of D.C. that had bulk tamarind pods for sale.

According to Saveur, this sauce is based on one in Secrets of the Still by Grace Firth (EPM, 1983). Put 1⁄2 cup vodka, 2 tsp. crushed whole allspice, 2 tsp. crushed cinnamon stick, and 10 crushed whole cloves into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for 8 hours. Strain vodka mixture; set aside. Put 1⁄2 cup red wine vinegar, 1⁄2 cup soy sauce, 2 tsp. hot sauce, and 4 crushed cloves garlic into a bowl; set aside. Roughly grate 4 cored and quartered medium tomatoes; discard skins. Scrape tomatoes through a sieve to make 1 cup tomato pulp; set aside. Cook 1⁄4 cup sugar and 6 tbsp. red wine vinegar in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, to make a deep brown caramel, 6–7 minutes. Carefully stir in tomato pulp. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thick, 4–5 minutes. Remove and discard garlic from soy sauce mixture, then add mixture to skillet. Bring to a boil, add 1⁄4 cup tamarind pulp along with vodka mixture, and cook until thickened, 10–12 minutes. Refrigerate for up to 2 months. Makes about 1 cup.

Now we’re grilling steaks just so we can use the rest of the sauce. It’s that good.

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