I'm not very good at following recipes, except for things like cakes and pastry where the right quantities of ingredients are required for the special chemistry to work to achieve the desired end result, and often the best meals are the ones which are the result of chucking in a bit of this or a handful of that, and seeing what happens.

This is how my 'Asian-inspired seared beef salad' came about, and the subject of this post. I ate a rather delicious seared beef salad at Wagamama a few weeks ago. Usually, when I eat at Wagamama I have No. 40 ('Yaki Soba') or No. 42 ('Yaki Udon'), or, if I need something warming, No. 35 ('Kare Lomen' - prawns and noodles in a curried coconut sauce). But I'm on a low-carb regime at the moment (boring, I know, but necessarily), and it was a hot day, and I'd just walked along the river from Twickenham, so I opted for No. 67 Ginger Beef and Coriander Salad, marked "new" on the menu.

I'm a big fan of Wagamama, and have been frequenting its various branches since the very first one opened in a little twitchell off Great Russell Street, where I used to work for publisher Laurence King. For less than a fiver (this was way back when..... c1993), you could get a bowl of noodles and a cup of green tea, and on Fridays, Wagamama became the office canteen, as we all piled in there, boss included, queueing down the stairs until a table and benches became available. The decor of Wagamama in minimalist and the service is snappy: it's not the sort of place to linger with your lover as there are no intimate corners, nor muted lighting. But friends who have visited Japan say it is pretty close to an authentic Japanese noodle bar - and the food is great: cooked to order, flavoursome and interesting.

According to the menu, the Ginger Beef and Coriander Salad comprises caramelised red onions, red peppers, cucumber, carrot, mooli (white radish), beansprouts, ginger and fresh coriander, all tossed with the Wagamama "house dressing" (ingredients a closely-guarded secret, no doubt) and garnished with sesame seeds. The beef had clearly been marinaded in something gingery before being seared and then thinly sliced. It was rare in the middle, just how I like it. I photographed my meal, much to the amusement of my companion, so that I could remember how the salad was constructed.

Wagamama Ginger Beef and Coriander Salad
My Asian-inspired seared beef salad contained most of the same ingredients: I managed to find a mooli on Kingston market, and the other ingredients were readily available in Waitrose. I marinaded a nice piece of steak in Wagamama's teriyaki marinade (also available in Waitrose) and made assembled the salad, dressing it with sesame oil and togarishi seasoning (Waitrose). I seared the beef in my ridged cast-iron griddle pan and then sliced it and arranged it on the salad, finishing the dish off with lots of fresh coriander. It was delicious - if rather large.....

I would suggest any or all of the following ingredients for that "Asian inspired flavour":

Grated carrot and radish/mooli
Thinly sliced red peppers
Finely sliced spring onions
Japanese pickled ginger 
Caramelised onions - easy to make yourself, or even buy ready made in a jar
Plenty of fresh coriander
Sesame oil
Lime juice
Nigella (black onion) seeds & sesame seeds to garnish

You could omit the beef, or use salmon, or teriyaki chicken. Experiment - as I did - and see what you like best.

My Asian-inspired seared beef salad


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