In this new content series, we take a closer look at key dishes from your favourite restaurants around the world.
By Max Veenhuyzen
Delicious and refined, this new-school steak tartare remix encapsulates the brilliance of Singapore’s favourite modern barbecue restaurant.
For a dish that isn’t on the menu, the steak frites at Burnt Ends sure do get around.
It’s a frequent sighting at this lively Singapore restaurant where it often materialises as one of the snacks on the chef’s select tasting menu. It also follows Burnt Ends’ front man Dave Pynt when the Perth-born chef takes his modern barbecue cooking to restaurants around the world. But most of all, it’s a mainstay on Instagram where diners regularly post snapshots and videos of this two-bite wonder. It’s not hard to understand why.
Featuring a raft of golden-fried potato carrying a cloud of raw beef and caviar, the dish is as simple as it is devastatingly delicious. Factor in the cachet associated with off-menu ordering and you’re looking at the makings of a cult dish.
“It’s just one of those really easy-to-understand, familiar flavours for a lot of people,” says Pynt. “It’s got that touch of elegance that makes people go, ‘ooh’. Don’t think about it too much. Just enjoy it.”
Despite the straightforward appeal of the dish – meat plus golden potato plus salt equals good eating the world over – kitchen smarts help make the familiar sparkle anew.
The beef, naturally, plays a starring role. It begins with onglet (hanger steak) from Australian producer Blackmore Wagyu, a cut that Pynt favours for its flavour, texture and leanness. Occasionally, tenderloin trim finds its way into the mix, too. While Burnt Ends does a fine line in aged beef, the beef in this dish is unaged: all the better to taste the caviar and potato. Even more crucial than the choice of cut is the cut in the kitchen with the beef for steak frites being hand-minced to order: a detail that’s as much about texture as it is taste.
“By the time you’ve finished chopping the beef, it’s generally at the right temperature that you want to be eating it at,” says Pynt.
A light hand with the seasoning – the beef is finished simply with salt, pepper and olive oil – keeps the flavour of the wagyu front and centre. The potato, meanwhile, remixes the French classic pommes Anna (a layered potato cake) Burnt Ends-style by baking the potatoes in brown butter and frying pieces of the cake in smoked beef fat. The finishing accent – a spoonful of Kristal caviar – reinterprets the egg component of a traditional steak tartare. The result is a dish that is by turns beefy, crunchy, smoky and dangerously easy to eat. It’s the brilliance and joy of Burnt Ends in microcosm and reiterates that refinement and open-fire cooking can – and should – co-exist happily.