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The slightly elusive and yet unmistakable flavor of the lemongrass combined with the simple Asian-style sauce makes this appetizer hard to resist. It’s great for parties or a treat for a few beef-loving friends gathered for a quick bite. It takes no time to cook and little effort to prepare. Serves 6
In a small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, oil, sherry, shallot, scallion, lemongrass, and soy sauce until well blended. You will have about ¾ cup of chunky sauce. Divide the sauce approximately in half, each in a separate bowl. Set 1 bowl aside to use later.
Holding a knife at a sharp angle, slice the sirloin into 12 very thin slices, each 2½ to 3 inches wide. Lay the meat on a work surface and brush 1 side of each slice with sauce. Lay a lemongrass stalk lengthwise along each strip of meat and roll up. Arrange the rolls, seam sides down, in a shallow glass dish and brush the tops and sides with more sauce. You will, by now, have used all of 1 bowl of sauce. Cover and refrigerate the rolls for about 1 hour to give them time to absorb the flavors of the sauce and the lemongrass.
Whisk the sugar and cornstarch into the reserved sauce.
In a sauté pan large enough to hold the rolls, heat the oil over medium-high heat and when hot, cook the rolls, seam-side down, for about 1 minute or until browned. Use tongs to turn the rolls very gently and continue to cook for another minute or so to brown on all sides. The meat is wrapped loosely around the lemongrass and so you will have to use great care.
Drizzle the reserved sauce over the rolls and cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer or until the sauce is heated through. Serve immediately.
Note: It’s important that the steak be 2½ to 3 inches thick so that when it’s sliced, the pieces will be wide and thin enough. Partially freezing the meat makes it easy to slice. Put the meat in the freezer about an hour before you will slice it.
With Asian-style dishes with lemongrass and fish sauce try a wine that accentuates the sweetness but that can stand up to the protein. The citrus in Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for this. Morton’s recommends The Crossings and Cloudy Bay, both from New Zealand.
For true indulgence you can’t beat a late-harvest Riesling or Semillon. The sweetness and velvety texture of these wines are a treat and will balance the dish. Morton’s suggests Mer Soleil “Late” and Inniskillin.