Using chimichurri as an example, what are some interesting sauces for steak from non-USA cuisines around the world?
June 3, 2010 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I just had a great chimichurri steak experience and would like to find more interesting alternative sauces like that for steak. What's your favorite unexpected, interesting, unusual sauce for steak from a cuisine outside of mainstream USA steak traditions?

An erstwhile steak purist, I was recently surprised by how much I liked steak with an Argentinean chimichurri sauce on it, which I hadn't heard of until then. What are some other interesting sauces, tailored for steak, from beef-eating places around the world that I should try?

I'm not looking for other ways to prepare steak, like fajitas, stews, etc., just sauce ideas. I want to take the same grilled medium-rare steak each time, slice it, fan it out on the plate like at a restaurant, and pour a different sauce over it each time to change its identity, and then design a complementary veg side for it, possibly from the same cuisine.

Google provides unlimited results in the sauce category, and steak keywords seem to lead mostly to the category of brown steak sauces that are the tradition at least in the USA and fancier French-sounding things like demi-glace wine reductions and bearnaise and whatnot. Those are great, but I'd love to hear about unexpectedly good and interesting sauces for steak from places out of the sort of mainstream traditions I've been exposed to. Forget Kansas and Texas - what if there's a real winner in Madagascar, Morocco, Mongolia, Thailand, Tajikistan, Tanzania... etc.? I'd like to narrow down the myriad options by starting with your tested favorites.

Creamy, pasty, oily, planty, spicy, green, red, orange, white... just as long as it's meant to complement steak. Bonus points for moderate level of effort. Something on the order of a complex Mexican mole could be too much, for example.

Some things I don't want:
-any kind of traditional steak sauce like the brown ones we all know, which incorporate things like Worcestershire, soy sauce, etc.
-BBQ sauces
-grandma's gravy
-Mexican salsas or picos (already eat them a lot)
-things that are mostly tomato, e.g. Italian tomato sauces or Indian curries based on tomato or tomato paste
-mixtures of chopped chunks of things instead of basically pourable things
-derails about the premise - c'mon, just play along!

Substitute sliced pork loin/chop if you're not a beef person. I'll try those too.
posted by Askr to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
To clarify, no marinades? Tampiquena is pretty amazing but I am pretty sure half of the identity is the marinade in addition to the spicy cheesey sauce. I have never made it myself so I can't really recommend a recipe, I'm afraid.
posted by mkb at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2010

I've had this, or something very similar to it, all over Europe.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:30 AM on June 3, 2010

Salsa Verde (the Italian one, not the Mexican one)
Bernaise It's French, so I suppose that qualifies as non-US.
I tend to be a purist, too (butter only for me, thanks), but I can see all of those working well.
posted by Gilbert at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Piri piri is not specific to steak -- most often found on chicken, in my experience -- but is excellent on steak nonetheless.

Brazilians use a vinaigrette on their beef, but it's much like a salsa or pico, which isn't what you're looking for.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:46 AM on June 3, 2010

Mojo sauce? You can use it as both a marinade and a sauce.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2010

Don't kill me if you're already aware... blue cheese. I've lived in TX a long time and only recently heard of this. Maybe I just don't get out enough. Here is one from the Pioneer Woman which sounds fantastic.
posted by CathyG at 8:55 AM on June 3, 2010

I have recommended this appetizer on AskMe previously. For the preparation you desire, you could simply make the horseradish whipped cream. It's outrageous.

Also, steak au poivre is always delicious.
posted by kevin-o at 8:56 AM on June 3, 2010

From Peru, Ají de Huacatay
it's typically served with chicken, but i like it on anything, including steak.
posted by needled at 8:58 AM on June 3, 2010

I think it's fairly standard, but I love a whiskey cream sauce on steak. Lots of ways to make it -- I typically saute shallot in butter until they're both browned, remove from heat, drop in a shot of bourbon or scotch depending on the flavor profile I want, return to heat (this removal and return is to hopefully prevent a fireball), and slowly whisk in a 1/3 cup of cream + 1 tbsp of preferred mustard or mix of mustards, then reduce until quite thick. You'll find lots of other variants online as well.

Great question -- I'm looking forward to trying out all these other sauces as well.
posted by j.edwards at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I LOVE Wasabi Butter!
posted by keep it tight at 9:07 AM on June 3, 2010

mkb - I'm not really looking for marinades, but if it's part of the preparation for a steak dish that has a sauce, or if some of the marinade is reserved to serve as the sauce, that's great.

Everybody else - thanks and keep it coming. I'm looking forward to trying several of these already. So far needled and jaquilynne are neck and neck in the exotic category with entries from Peru and ultimately Mozambique and some of the more familiar ones still sound very nice. Go!
posted by Askr at 9:29 AM on June 3, 2010

This book is indispensable for the sauce loving person. It is great because it provides guidance on what each sauce would be good with it. I recommend this book to every cook as a solid go to reference.
posted by jadepearl at 10:17 AM on June 3, 2010

I like putting the cheesy beer sauce used for welsh rarebit on steaks. I might be a creepy weirdo in this particular instance, though.
posted by elizardbits at 10:24 AM on June 3, 2010

posted by charlesv at 10:51 AM on June 3, 2010

I use this sauce on chicken all the time but it might also work with steak. Marinate the meat in lemon juice & olive oil. If lemon with beef doesn't appeal, try lime.

Sauce: thick Greek-style yogurt (like Fage) with a crapload of this stuff mixed in:
- chopped scallions
- cilantro
- 1 minced jalapeno
- mint

Proportions: There should be so much green stuff that the yogurt is just there to hold it together.

The recipe is from Nigella Lawson.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2010

I do a sauce similar to that suggested by j.edwards, but I use a bit of broth instead of the liquor and really amp up the mustard flavor with grainy brown mustard.

Compound butters are delicious, versatile, and freezable. Mix in cheese, herbs, peppers-- really, anything-- into softened butter, roll into a log in plastic wrap, and freeze. Cut off a coin to put on top of your steak.

A Thai-style peanut sauce as used for dipping sate might be nice.
posted by TrarNoir at 11:46 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pesto of all sorts. I particularly like pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts for steak, but it's all tasty.
posted by catlet at 12:14 PM on June 3, 2010

steak with romesco sauce, courtesy of mark bittman
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 12:49 PM on June 3, 2010

This cookbook is all steaks & sauces.
posted by kestrel251 at 2:17 PM on June 3, 2010

Awesome. Guess who's buying a couple of cookbooks mentioned above? *double thumbs, double thumbs* This guy!
posted by Askr at 4:48 PM on June 3, 2010

South Africans love their beef and they particularly love it with a creamy mushroom sauce. I had it a lot when I lived there and while I found it fine, it wasn't my personal preference, being raised on more western sauces, which frankly after not having had for a few years, I crave.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:51 PM on June 3, 2010

I recently had this roasted pepper/blue cheese sauce. It's put in the blender so it's smooth. I don't usually like blue cheese, but I was surprised by how tasty it was.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:20 AM on June 4, 2010

I haven't gotten aroun to trying it yet, but apparently in Lisbon steak is often accompanied by a coffee sauce, which sounds pretty damn fine to me.
posted by kxr at 12:36 AM on June 5, 2010

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