Cambodian Ginger-Cured Beef (Saiko Niet)

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Marinating or curing beef and other meats is a practice that is found all over Asia; besides producing a highly flavorful dish, the process preserves the meat and increases its shelf life. The differences are usually in the type of seasonings used, but common elements are garlic, ginger, scallions or hot peppers; soy sauce or salt; vinegar or lemon juice; and sugar for a hint of sweetness. This is Cambodia’s version, the main component being ginger.

For 4-6 servings

3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced gingerroot
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound semi-lean beef (sirloin, round or rib-eye), cut across the grain into 1/8-inch thick slices (you can also use pre-sliced beef available at Asian stores)
vegetable oil (optional)

Combine sugar, ginger and salt in a bowl. Add beef slices and stir to coat evenly with mixture. At this point you can place the beef slices on a rack set on a plate. Cover with netting (to keep out insects) and set out in the sun for several hours to cure. You can also use the lowest setting of your oven, or a dehydrator for this purpose. Pan-fry using a bit of oil in a skillet, or grill, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. You could also broil this in a flame-proof baking dish, about 4 inches from the heat — watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Serve with hot steamed rice and some stir-fried vegetables or a nice crisp salad, preferably dressed using Asian flavors.

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