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Anna Pump’s Asian-Flavored Beef, Pepper and Spinach Salad

Anna Pump’s Asian-Flavored Beef, Pepper and Spinach Salad
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         The Hamptons are chock-a-block full of famous chefs.  There are those who work here–or at least own restaurants here—like Jean-Georges Vongerichten who just arrived this year at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.  There are those who make this place their summer home like Bobby Flay and Marc Murphy. And there are those who have lived here year ‘round and who have spread the gospel of Hamptons food and cooking throughout the country.  Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, immediately comes to mind.  But you might be surprised to know that Ina herself owes a great debt of gratitude to someone she initially hired to work in her original Barefoot Contessa food shop.

Anna Pump was her name and she was as well-known out here as Ina herself.  Tragically, she was struck by a speeding truck on a dark night last winter and died.   But she more than lives on.   Her daughter and grandchildren soldier on at both the Loaves and Fishes take-out shop in Sagaponack and at The Bridgehampton Inn and Loaves and Fishes Cookshop beside it. We are also extremely fortunate that Anna left behind some of the best-thumbed cookbooks in our kitchens: “The Loaves and Fishes Party Cookbook” (Harper Row 1990) and “Summer on a Plate” (Simon and Shuster 2008) both of which were written with Gen LeRoy.  And it’s from “Summer on a Plate” where we found this recipe for a salad this is perfect anytime of the year but seems especially right to serve at lunch or dinner in the heat of summer.   It’s a hearty salad, full of Asian-inspired flavor, beef combined with red pepper and onions and cilantro.  It’s all that and yet it’s very easy to prepare and can be made in all of 40 minutes tops.

You can use lesser cuts of beef here—London Broil, Top Round, Flank or Hanger steak.   I went with Prime Sirloin, a good 2 inches thick.   This is a great opportunity for the griller in your family to show off his or her skills.  I did the whole thing in a grill pan on the top of the stove.  I confess that I like the control of the stove over my complete lack of it on our Weber.  But grill aficionados should not be deterred from making this their way.  As much as I wanted to use a mandolin to slice the paper thin arcs of red onion, I found myself using a very sharp knife instead. To cut down on the taste of raw red onion, I soaked the slices in ice water. The red peppers were grilled until they were soft and slightly charred, then sliced into strips.  You likely have everything you need to make the salad dressing in your pantry. The only items you may need to purchase are Toasted Sesame Oil and Rice Vinegar.   I use clam shells of baby spinach leaves for the spinach.

Here is the recipe:

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