Tamarind-Glaze Flank Steak with Mango-jicama Salsa

Guest recipe by Hope Fox & Chef Kunz
Author of Impress for Less! (finally...terrific recipes from the finest restaurants that you can really make at home) 

Legendary chef Gray Kunz took New York by storm when he opened Café Gray in 2004, a 200-seat brasserie designed by David Rockwell in the Time Warner Center. With its leafy Central Park views and high-profile address, Café Gray is the perfect showcase for Kunz’s synthesized cuisine, a product of his international upbringing and stints in the illustrious kitchen of Fredy Girardet in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong. New York magazine described Kunz’s cuisine as “not so much fusion as the product of a man fluent in the food languages of Europe, India, China, and Southeast Asia.” After all, this is the same chef who earned a four-star rating from the New York Times while at Lespinasse, which Zagat rated as New York’s Best Overall Restaurant for three years in a row. In 2003 the Culinary Institute of America heralded him as a Master of Aesthetics, an award given to only a handful of culinary professionals.

Chef Kunz creates layered dishes composed of intriguing ingredients that add up to a single, bold statement. A few cases in point are his bouquet of pencil asparagus with fresh peas, mint, and yogurt; black bass with ancho chiles, coriander, and mussel-clam broth; or coconut-coated red snapper with crabmeat and green papaya. Ask for a seat in the showcase kitchen, where the chefs dance the well-choreographed waltz of impeccable gastronomy.
Chef Kunz uses concentrated tamarind paste to give an exotic jolt to the barbecue glaze for this steak.

Tamarind Glaze

1 cup tamarind paste (or 1 cup pureed mango)
2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped (or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup water
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup peeled jícama, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Cayenne, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Flank Steak
11/2 pounds flank steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cayenne, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Serves 6

1. To make the tamarind glaze, in a medium saucepan, combine the tamarind paste, tomatoes, ginger, honey, cumin, coriander, and water. Place over low heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discard the solids, and return the sauce to the pan. Simmer again, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.
3. To make the salsa, in a large sauté pan over high heat, heat the oil. Add the bell pepper and jícama and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the mango and remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, and white pepper. Set aside.
4. To make the flank steak, brush the steak with the oil and season with cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Preheat an outdoor grill or heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill the steak, turning once, until it reaches the desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare.
5. Let the steak rest 5 minutes, then slice into thin slices on the bias. Coat the steak with the tamarind glaze, garnish with the salsa and chopped cilantro, and serve.

chef’s notes:
Tamarind paste is made from the pods of the feathery tamarind tree native to Latin America and the Caribbean. The pulp of these pods is mixed with water, and the resulting liquid is used as a souring agent in beverages, curries, soups, and other dishes. Tamarind is a very common ingredient in Thai and Indian cuisines. It is available in Asian markets and in some large supermarkets.
Jícama is a large, bulbous root vegetable that is popular in Mexican and other Latino cuisines.