Beef with Sautéed Mushrooms and Ampalaya
1.2 kg trimmed sirloin, cut into 50g pieces
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
3 litres beef stock
100ml olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed with a large pinch of salt
150g golden eschalots, finely diced
50g fresh shiitake mushrooms, trimmed
40g wood ear mushrooms
2 tbs Mexican spices
100ml red wine
2 Ampalaya (bitter melons), halved lengthways, seed and pith removed and cut into small squares
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small squares, tops reserved
200ml vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 eschalots, thinly sliced
½ bitter melon, seeds and pith removed, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 140C.
Trim the beef, then rub with salt and pepper. Place in a heavy-based casserole with the stock and bring to a gentle boil. Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 3 hours or until very tender. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Skim the cooking liquid and simmer over low heat until the stock has reduced by three-quarters.
Meanwhile, for the garnishes, heat the oil in a shallow frying pan to 160C. Cook the garlic, eschalots and bitter melon separately, until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Place half the butter and the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter goes frothy and just starts to turn brown, add the garlic and eschalots and stir for a few seconds, then add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, pour the mushrooms into a sieve placed over a bowl, and then return the strained oil to the pan over medium-high heat. When hot, dust the beef in the Mexican spices and cook until golden all over.
Add the red wine to the pan and simmer until reduced by half. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside, then add 150ml of the stock to the pan and simmer until reduced by half. Add the bitter melon, carrot and the remaining butter. Reduce the heat to as low as possible and shake the pan so all the butter is incorporated into the sauce.
To serve, arrange the beef on a plate and top with mushrooms and spoon over some of the eschalots and garlic it was cooked in. Place a spoonful of the bitter melon and carrot sauce at the base of each piece of beef, then sprinkle a little pile of the fried onion, garlic and bitter melon chips around the plate. Top each piece of beef with a carrot top and serve immediately.