The inaugural #whatsyourbeef competition, created by Meat and Livestock Australia in conjunction with Hospitality magazine, has been taken out by Melbourne’s Botherambo.
What do Australia’s food lovers want from a lunch menu? Well, first of all, it needs to offer food that can be prepared, plated and served quickly – lunch breaks are not to be wasted waiting in line or making idle chit-chat with your boss at the table. It needs to be light enough to ensure you don’t want to nap under your desk for the rest of the afternoon, but satisfying enough to keep you away from the chocolate stash in your second drawer. And lastly, it can’t break the budget; that’s what dinner is for.
In order to recognise hospitality venues that are ticking all of these boxes, and also offering a good balance of protein, carbs and vegies, Meat and Livestock Australia, together with Hospitality magazine, created the #whatsyourbeef industry competition.
We asked chefs across the country to take a picture of a dish on their lunch menu that incorporates beef and post it on Facebook and/or Instagram with the hashtag #whatsyourbeef (check out www.heychef.com.au to see all the entries).
After gallivanting across town taste-testing the finalists’ creations, the judges presented the winning crown to chef Kam McManamey of Botherambo, a south east Asian bar and restaurant in Richmond, Victoria. His Crying Tiger Beef dish, comprising Cape Grim beef tenderloin, ground rice, chilli, pickled carrot, cucumber and nam jim jiew was a standout, earning McManamey a $250 King of Knives voucher and a Marco Pierre White signed cleaver.
“The dish is just grilled beef with a tamarind nam jim and it’s usually just served with some fresh herbs, a bit of cucumber and maybe some pickled vegetables. If you order it on the streets of Bangkok that’s what you’d get, basically. So we’ve just taken that and upgraded it,” McManamey told Hospitality. “It’s a modern adaptation of a Thai street food dish. Obviously they wouldn’t use tenderloin and they wouldn’t set the tamarind sauce with agar.
“That’s what I’m all about at the moment: taking what’s essentially peasant food that is eaten on the streets of Bangkok and preparing it in a more contemporary, restaurant quality fashion.”
Botherambo seats approximately 100 people and opened in December 2014. McManamey previously launched and operated BangPop on South Wharf and worked under chef Geoff Lindsay (winner of the MLA’s inaugural Masterpieces secondary cuts competition in 2014) at his Vietnamese restaurant, Dandelion. At Botherambo, he’s on a mission to give Asian street food favourites and modern makeover.
“It’s predominantly Thai, north eastern Thai influenced, but then it’s modernised or refined – I guess that’s the best way to put it. All the recipes are authentic and it’s an esan-style street food but set in a more contemporary, western way. So the presentation is a bit more refined and there’s a more technical approach to finishing the food. We use Pacojets and water baths and smoking guns and the sous vide,” he says.
The winning dish
While Botherambo’s Crying Tiger Beef dish is pretty close to the classic in regards to its flavours and textures, the key difference is the use of a primal beef cut – the tenderloin.
“The tenderloin hasn’t got the most flavour, obviously, but just in terms of texture, it is a superior cut of beef. I wanted to refine the dish as much as I possibly could, so tenderloin was just the appropriate cut to use.”
McManamey says the dish has been on the lunch menu for about six months, and was first offered to lunchtime customers because it was a favourite during the night.
“A lot of the front of house boys like it, so they sell it. Every other table just about has it,” he says.
“The beef is a big seller [for dinner]. So the strategy behind having that on the lunch menu was that obviously people were enjoying it, it’s a big seller, and would draw clientele in. It’s quite light too; it’s more of an entre size than a main course size, and that appeals to a lot of people too.
“There are quite a few creative offices around here. Mecca (Cosmetics) has a big office here, so there are quite a few young ladies that frequent the area for lunch, so we try to keep the lunch menu light, healthy and clean and I think the Crying Tiger dish definitely works within those parameters.”
McManamey says today’s lunchtime menus need to be ”lighter, cleaner and quicker”, arguing that diners are moving away from ordering larger serves of red meat, like steaks, in the middle of the day.
“With the Crying Tiger, it’s a 100-120g portion of beef, so it’s enough animal protein to leave you sated but not so much that you have to wait half an hour for it and then you have to get through it as well.”
Other beefy lunch options at Botherambo include the Salted Beef – Cape Grim tenderloin with kohlrabi, jackfruit, chilli, mint, coriander, ground rice; the Chang Mai Wagyu beef curry with Darling Downs wagyu, green mango, snake bean, dill, chilli; and the 18 hour beef cheek – the venue’s signature dish – which comprises green mango, salted prawn, herbs, nam jim jiew, mandarin, kaffir lime and chilli salt.
In regards to future lunchtime options, McManamey is looking towards secondary cuts. “Those kind of things go really well in noodle soups – pho and things like that. There’s definitely room to use secondary cuts and those braise style beef cuts in lighter dishes. Perhaps not in a salad, but definitely in a nice clear broth with noodles.
“We’re also looking at developing banh mi, which is a Vietnamese street style baguette. We’re developing a few things there, and I’m always looking at putting on lighter curries for the summer time, while working with some secondary cuts. I prefer working with secondary cuts because it’s quite easy to just cook a steak, but when you’re dealing with secondaries and things like intercostals and shins, it involves a bit more skill and a bit more talent. So we’re definitely looking at secondaries as much as the primal cuts.”
Crying Tiger Beef
- 4 x 100 -120g Cape Grim tenderloin portions, seasoned with vegetable oil, sea salt and white pepper then cryovaced and waterbathed at 54C for 45 mins.
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 small daikon radish, peeled and juilenned
- 40ml rice vinegar
- 80ml water
- 40g palm sugar
Dissolve palm sugar into vinegar and water. Cover vegies with the solution, rest at room temperature for six hours.
Nam jim jiew
- 60g grilled shallot
- 36g grilled garlic
Puree shallot and garlic.
- 125ml tamarind water
- 33ml fish sauce
- 56ml palm sugar
- 2g agar
Combine liquids and agar, boil for three minutes. Mix all ingredients set in the fridge. Puree to gel consistency in blender
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- ½ tsp sea salt crystals
- 1tsp white sugar
Blitz in bar blender, fine pass and reserve.
- 20g raw glutinous rice
Dry roast rice in a pan till fragrant and golden brown. Blitz in blender to powder consistency. Fine pass and reserve.
- 60g cucumber, deseeded and fine sliced
- 60g green onion, fine sliced
- ½ punnet micro thai basil, reserved in ice water
Seal beef on char grill then rest in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Whilst resting construct the salad with the drained pickled vegies, green onion and cucumber. Carve the beef, then construct the plate with the salad, jim jiew, finish with the chilli salt, ground rice and micro herbs.