Seductive lingerie, flowers and chocolate can work wonders on Valentine’s Day, but showering your loved one with gifts will only get you so far; to truly convey your affections, nothing says it better than food!
Not just any old grub will do, though – it doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive – it simply needs to be special; a favourite meal or a dish that feels like a treat. Moules, for instance are inexpensive and extremely quick and easy, yet they provide ceremonial impact and mussels are absolutely scrumptious! Scallops are also an elegant yet simple option, as are seared halibut steaks or sole meunière (sole fillets coated in seasoned flour and fried in butter.)
If seafood isn’t for you, perhaps try a roast rump of lamp, or if either yourself or your partner is a vegetarian, how about a creamy risotto with petit-pois?
Our favourite option for Valentine’s Day supper would have to be a timeless classic; steak. This vibrant recipe for Seared Steak with Sautéed Shallots & Citrus Sauce is inspired by the current Parisian passion for Asian and fusion food. It’s both sweet and sour and it’s surprisingly low maintenance when served with steamed edamame (soy beans) with rocket, together with torn pieces of warm, buttered baguette to dip in the delicious juices.
Light a few candles, throw on some Al Green, crack open a bottle of Champagne or Italian Prosecco and you have one special Valentine’s supper ahead…
Seared Steak with Sautéed Shallots & Citrus Sauce, served with Rocket, Edamame and Crusty French Bread
2 rib-eye steaks, about 250g each (substitute with fillets if you prefer)
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 small lime
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3cm cubed fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 banana shallot, peeled, halved and finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp groundnut oil or rapeseed oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp runny honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
300g frozen edamame (soy beans), steamed for 5 or 10 minutes until tender
A bag of fresh rocket leaves, washed and ready to eat
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
French baguette, foil-wrapped and warmed through in a 90° oven for 10 minutes
Heat the olive oil and gently sauté the shallots in a large pan over a moderate heat. Allow the shallots to soften for ten to fifteen minutes or so before adding the fresh ginger, garlic and chilli flakes (if using) for a further minute or two.
Add the zest of the lime and the orange, stirring all the time add juice of both and continue to gently simmer. Add the salt, honey, soy sauce and Dijon mustard and stir to combine and emulsify the sauce. Set aside whilst you prepare the steak.
Pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper and prepare a plate with salt and pepper but do not season before you cook the steaks as the salt will draw the moisture from the meat.
In a heavy-based, non-stick frying pan, warm the groundnut or rapeseed oil over a high heat and sear the steaks for a minute to a minute and a half on each side for rare, or two to two and a half minutes for medium rare (depending upon the thickness of the steak).
Remove the steaks and leave to rest on a plate for five minutes covered with foil, this will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat to ensure the meat is juicy and tender.
Whilst the steaks rests, steam the edamame, reheat the sauce over a very low heat, warm through the bread, chop the coriander and arrange a packet of fresh rocket on two plates.
Once the meat has rested, season with the salt and pepper and serve the steak topped with the sautéed shallots & citrus sauce and steamed edamame. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and be sure to slather your warm French bread with unsalted butter.