First, the good news: no monkey, no gland. Second, the bad news: this is one hell of a thing to do to a nice piece of steak. Monkey gland steak is an all-time South African favourite. Why this should be is anybody’s guess. In regular use monkey gland is a marinade so powerful it can be used equally well on old tackies, bits of polystyrene and weight-lifters’ kidney belts. If you insist on using this concoction on steak, may I suggest you follow these simple instructions, which will provide you with a tangy sauce that augments, instead of destroys, best-quality beef.
To make monkey gland steak for two, you will need: • 700g porterhouse or aged rump • 3 onions • 3 tomatoes • 1 pack tomato concentrate • 2 cloves garlic • 1 cup Mrs Ball’s strong chutney • ½ cup best quality tomato sauce • red Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste • 2 tablespoons dark soya sauce • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • 2 tablespoons black bean chilli (optional)
First, some history. Long, long ago when all the world was new and mighty pterodactyls filled the sky, I was a primatologist at the University of Natal. In the course of a project, my co-researchers and once ate a vervet monkey, which was quite horrible in every possible way. mention this only to prove my credentials regarding any recipe that claims to come from monkeys. But as we know, monkey gland steak has nothing to do with monkeys, for which relief, Dear Lord, much thanks. Now, some people use their version of the sauce as a marinade. This version works best as a sauce, applied by the diner with the same sort of discretion as any other tabletop condiment.
We begin. Peel and slice the onions, blanch, peel and chop the tomato, crush, peel and mince the garlic. In a heavy-bottomed pan, saute the onions and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil until the onions are reduced to a soft, golden hash. Add the chopped raw tomato and let it cook until the contents of the pan combine. Stir in the tomato concentrate, then lower the heat. At this point add everything else, noting that the optional (and hard to get) black bean chilli paste will take this sauce into the stratosphere. Like said, this is no great feat of culinary science. Stir well to evenly distribute the various ingredients, then remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning to taste, with red Tabasco, coarsely ground black pepper and salt. Add these in very small quantities since once in, there’s no way to get them out. Now for the steak. Braai mechanics and other maestros of meat need no advice here. Place the freshly done steak on a warmed plate then either pour a spoon or two of the monkey gland sauce over one end of the meat or, ideally, leave this task to the individual taste of each diner. Serve with a baked potato, which will soak up some of the sauce, plus a green salad and most important of all, a chilled Pilsener or even two. – David Basckin