How do you get those perfect bar marks on steak or eggplant or zucchini?
First things first. Clean your grill pan of any residue, oil or stuff. If it’s extremely bad, get some regular table salt, sprinkle liberally and leave it for a day. The salt will draw out the yucky stuff and you’ll be able to get a cleaner, oil free surface to grill off.
For your eggplant and zucchini – go DRY! Yep no oil at all and on a very high heat. On locations, I use a tiny camp stove with butane gas – it’s like having a jet engine flame. Bigger than my Miele gas stovetop, perfect for fast and furious stir frys or grill marks out and about. I digress.
Resist the urge to turn and move. Simply place on the grill and turn once. That way you get really defined and dark grill marks. If you’re unsure when it’s time to turn just lift up the edge and take a little peak. Once the veggies are grilled, drizzle in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
For your steak, oil lightly. And I mean lightly. Too much oil will just cause the grill pan to spit and the grill marks won’t be so defined (if you know what I mean). Again the same principles apply here as the eggplant or zucchini. Resist the urge to turn and move these steaks about. Turn only once.
The best thing to remember is, you’re styling for the camera - not styling to eat. So, the steak doesn’t need to be perfectly pink, neither does the eggplant need to be tender. The food just needs to look appetising. Moreish enough to make someone cook the recipe.
Recipe Theresa Nguyen / THE GOOK
Food Preparation and Styling Theresa Nguyen / THE GOOK
Photographer Natalie Boog
THE MEDITERANEAN STEAK SANDWICH
FOR THE SALSA VERDE
HANDFUL OF PARSLEY AND MINT
2 TABLESPOONS SHERRY VINEGAR
6 -8 TABLESPOONS OF OLIVE OIL
FOR THE SANDWICHES
1 RED CAPSICUM
1 EGGPLANT, SLICED 1CM THICK
1 ZUCCHINI, SLICED 1CM THICK
4-6 TABLESPOONS OF YOUR FAVOURITE HOMMOUS (OR MAKE YOUR OWN)
1 RED ONION, SLICED INTO THIN RINGS
4 X 200g SCOTCH FILLET STEAKS CUT 15MM THICK
4 X SLICES OF YOUR FAVOURITE BREAD, CUT INTO 20MM THICK SLICES
LET’S GET COOKING
Make the salsa verde. Combine the parsley and mint in a food processor. Blend until mixture is finely chopped. Add vinegar, salt and pepper. Blitz. Add olive oil and blend to form a loose paste. Place in a jar until you’re ready to serve.
Blacken the red capsicum over a gas stove or in an oven grill. Once black all round, place into a bowl and cover with cling wrap. Once cooled, scrape the black skin off and discard the inner seeds. Cut into 2cm thick strips. Set aside. Grill your eggplant and zucchini. Once grilled, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Season steaks with salt and pepper and brush with a little olive oil. Cook the steaks on a grill pan on high for 2-3 minutes each side. Set aside to rest.
Lightly brush the bread with olive oil and toast on the grill pan for a few minutes each side.
Layer your sandwiches! Bread, hommus, zucchini, eggplant, steaks, red capsicum and finally thin onion rings. At the table dollop a good spoonful of salsa verde over the sandwich stack.
Your grilled vegetables can be prepared a day in advance. Serves 2. Accompany with a bowl of the salsa verde and some chilled crisp white wine. Remember to drink responsibly!