Ostrich steak salad with Vietnamese dressing

We’ve been eating a good deal of ostrich meat lately, mostly tenderloin, so when we needed a meal in a hurry the other day when dear daughter Alex came for supper, I did the meat and Elspeth did the rest.

The recipes she browsed all originally called for beef – not too much ostrich in South Asia – but I find ostrich is a handy substitute, particularly since it contains zero cholesterol, compared to beef.

It is freely available at major supermarkets, and it is a truly South African product, with a significant export market when we don’t have an avian flu scare, which easily frightens off the European Union. Prices are reasonable, about R90 for 500g – which is what we used for our dish.

It fed four with ease, which works out at about 125g protein a person, which in the grand scheme of things is about right, considering the move to reduce animal protein consumption.

The cooking method is quite specific. I use a piping hot cast iron skillet to sear the whole fillet, four minutes a side, turn it once more, then into a 200°C oven for between four and eight minutes, depending how well you want it done.

This ensures that the meat is done through evenly, and is not at all dry close to the surface.

Resting is very important, and since the meat is eaten warm, not hot, it makes sense to leave it covered to rest for about 10 minutes, before slicing it.

I find if you slice it too soon after it comes out of the oven, it loses far too much moisture and can end up quite dry.

Ingredients, selection and preparation

1 whole (approx. 500g) ostrich fillet: pat dry, season with salt and pepper, and paint with canola oil

75g rice vermicelli

(Salad for four)

Lettuce leaves of your choice

Cucumber: quartered lengthwise and ribboned with a veggie peeler

yellow pepper: chopped

baby tomatoes: halved

small avocado pear: peeled and cubed

6 mint leaves: chiffonaded

100g peanuts: preferably roasted and unsalted, but salted will do

(Pickled red onion dressing)

1 red onion: finely chopped

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 cup canola oil (or peanut oil)

1 clove garlic: crushed

1 medium red chilli: chopped, seeds and all

juice of two small limes

2 tsp fresh grated ginger


Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Make the dressing first. Combine all the pickled red onion dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and mix well. Place in the fridge covered for at least an hour.

Place the vermicelli in a small bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let it stand for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, toast the peanuts in a dry frying pan until they begin to colour, about five minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat a skillet until piping hot, and paint it with canala oil. Sear the steak on each side for four minutes.

Turn the steak and place in the oven for between four minutes (rare) and eight minutes (med-ium), then set aside covered to rest for 10 minutes.

While the steak is resting, make the salad in four bowls. After the steak is well rested, slice it thinly with a very sharp knife.

Divide the vermicelli between the four salads, arrange the steak slices on top, and anoint with the pickled red onion dressing. Garnish with the toasted peanuts.


Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 12-16 minutes

Yield: Four salads