Our big vacation this year was spring break to Hanseatic Northern Europe, starting with five days on a houseboat in a canal in Amsterdam that ended up being my favorite part of the trip. Amsterdam is full of delicious food, from the Gouda and Oude Kas ("old cheese"), borrelhapjes and bitterballen at the Brown Cafes, and grass fed beef, to the internationally inspired rice tables (rijstaffel) which feature cuisine of the Surinamese population there and the spices imported through waterway shipping that historically shaped the city of canals. My husband and I ate a rice table at Blauw, a restaurant near the Vondelpark, and had no fewer than 19 little plates paraded to our table, from egg yellow curry to goat satay to classic beef rendang, served with pickled vegetable salad foils and my favorite accompaniment, kerisik (toasted coconut). Amsterdam is also known for Amsterdam steaks, with the most famous coming from Cafe Loetje, where a medium rare filet is served with a thick brown gravy spiked with sambal olek, "Bali Style." I prefer my filet mignon more naked, so instead of dousing mine in brown gravy, I pulled in the flavors with a light green curry inspired by rendang (with ingredients easily accessible at my Ohio grocery store) and of course a toasty coconut topping. Enjoy. —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
filet mignon steaks, 1 inch thick (about 6oz each)
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your taste
cloves garlic, finely minced
shallot, finely minced
3 inch portion of ginger, peeled and finely minced
red chili flake
zest and juice of 1 small lime
light brown sugar
shredded coconut (lightly sweetened or unsweetened is best)
Before cooking, bring your steaks to room temperature and pat dry with a paper towel. Season each side with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, patting a bit to get the spices to stick to the meat. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and, once hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted but not brown, add the steaks and cook, turning only once. I prefer a medium rare, whose cooking time is 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side. Remove the steaks from the pan and rest, tented with foil, while you prepare the sauce.
To the same pan the steaks just cooked in, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the shallot, garlic, ginger and red chili flakes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric and clove and cook until fragrant, about an additional minute, before adding the lime juice and zest, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Once the liquid is added, scrape the bottom of the pan vigorously to deglaze all the flavor from the browned steaks. Warm through and slightly thicken the sauce, about 5 minutes, adding the soy sauce and Worcestershire in the last minute of cooking. If desired (I prefer it this way), transfer the sauce to a blender (or use a handheld immersion blender) and blend until smooth.
While the steaks and sauce cook, make the kerisek: in a dry skillet over medium heat, cook the coconut flakes with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally at first and frequently towards the end, for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
To serve, plate a bed of green curry sauce for your steak to sit atop. Serve with rice and a generous sprinkle of kerisik (and trust me, bring the rest of the kerisik to the table for further additions). Enjoy!