IF only we could nibble a small corner of beef before purchasing, like tasting a wine cheese, life would be simpler.

Concluding that your meat was tough, after you've cooked it, is too late. For the restaurant, I have cultivated a relationship with my butcher, whose judgement I trust. He buys from herds that are grass-fed, outdoor-reared and grown naturally to full age without hormones. The meat is hung on the bone for several weeks to age, develop flavour and tenderness; only then will it be sold.

Beef should not be bright red but display a pleasing, dull, ruby depth, acquired from ageing. Clear marbling with veins of fat should be visible: as the meat cooks this fat will melt, adding succulence and flavour. Fat on the outside of the meat (like on a sirloin) or between muscles (such as rib) is good - but only if it is not overly thick, which can be a sign of last-minute intense feeding.

Warm salad of seared beef sirloin with bean shoots, chilli and sesame

Recipes serve four

2 sirloin steaks, about 180g each

Lard or clarified butter

150g bean shoots

100g sugar snaps

120g mange touts

120g green beans

1 bag radishes

1 cucumber

1 red chilli

2cm-long piece of ginger

Juice of 2 limes

1 dstsp rice wine (or sherry) vinegar

4-6 dstsp sesame oil

3-4 dstsp olive oil

1 tsp caster sugar

1 dstsp Dijon mustard

40g unsalted butter

2 heads of little gem, shredded

1 rounded dstsp chopped coriander and basil


1. Remove green bean tops; trim the sinewy spine off the sugar snaps and mange touts. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, blanch these vegetables for two minutes, then refresh under cold water. Drain and allow to dry. Cut the beans and sugar snaps in half and slice the mange touts into thin strips. Add bean shoots then set aside.

2. Peel the cucumber (optional), halve it lengthways then scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice into half moons and add to the beans mixture. Thinly slice the radishes and add these too.

3. Dressing: peel then finely grate ginger into a mixing bowl. Crush garlic with sea salt to a smooth paste, then add to the ginger. Halve chilli lengthways, remove seeds, finely dice the flesh then add to the ginger and garlic mixture.

4. Add sugar, mustard, lime juice and vinegar to the ginger base and whisk. While whisking, drizzle in the sesame oil then olive oil. Adjust seasoning and acidity to taste. Set aside.

5. To serve: remove steaks from fridge 30 minutes before cooking, and dry them with kitchen paper. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat for one minute. Add a dstsp lard or clarified butter and heat this for half a minute. Now season the steaks with salt only, on one side. Place seasoned side down into the pan and sear until a dark brown crust forms, about one minute. Now season the side facing upwards with salt then turn over to repeat the cooking on this second face for one minute. Turn over again and cook for half a minute. Add butter to the pan; cook meat for one more minute then turn it over for one more minute to cook on the other face, spooning the butter over the meat as it foams up. Remove the meat to a clean plate, turn off heat and pour the pan juices over. Add a little more sea salt and a few twists of fresh ground black pepper. Leave to rest for five minutes.

6. Combine the leaves with the beans mixture. Add herbs then dressing. Toss well. Slice meat into thin slivers and add three-quarters to the salad bowl, with juices from the plate the meat was resting on. Toss together then scatter the rest of the meat slices on the salad. Serve at once.

Rib eye steaks with warm salsa

4 rib eye steaks (each around 200g/2cm thick)

4 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced

20-25 cherry tomatoes

5 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 red onions, peeled and finely diced

1 dstsp each picked oregano leaves, finely chopped chives and chopped basil leaves

Olive oil

Sea salt flakes

Fresh ground black pepper


1. Halve the tomatoes, transfer to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil over and season with salt and a pinch of sugar. Allow to stand for 20 minutes or so.

2. Heat a large heavy frying pan for one minute over a high heat then add 2-3 dstsp olive oil and heat for a further minute. Cook two steaks at a time. Season the first two with sea salt on one side, then sear this side for a minute in the hot oil. Season the upwards-facing sides with sea salt, turn them over and sear for a minute on this face. Turn again and cook for a minute on the first face again then repeat on the second side. Remove to a plate. Season with a little black pepper. Cover the plate with a loose tent of tin foil. Repeat process with the other two steaks.

3. Reduce heat on the pan and if necessary add a little more olive oil. Add garlic and red onion and fry for a few minutes stirring regularly, then add cherry tomatoes and fry to chunky compote appearance. Turn up the heat if necessary during this stage. Add the balsamic and stir in. Turn off heat and stir in herbs.

4. Add any (cooked) meat juices to the tomato mixture. Slice steaks into strips and divide between four serving plates. Spoon the tomato mixture over the steaks and serve at once with a salad.

Geoffrey Smeddle is chef patron of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife, KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk