1. Put the tamarind pieces into a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 8 minutes. Drain and pour the mixture into a fine mesh strainer.
2. Press the pulp to extract the thick tamarind liquid into a bowl. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups tamarind liquid). Add the sugar, sambal oelek, and fish sauce. Stir until smooth. (Makes about 1 3/4 cups Tamarind sauce).
1/4 teaspoon 5-spice powder
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Several twists of black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces New York sirloin strip, trimmed of fat
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of tamarind sauce (see recipe above)
1 tablespoon crisp shallot flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon Thai basil, roughly chopped
1 small firm fresh plantain with the peel left on
3 tablespoon white vinegar to mix with a bowl of cold water
Chopped peanuts for garnish
1. Combine the first four ingredients in a shallow bowl and stir to distribute ingredients. Place the sirloin strip whole into the bowl to coat each side of the beef evenly with the marinade.
2. Prepare a grill or skillet until it is hot. Sear the beef for about 30 to 45 seconds on each side or until there are grill marks, leaving it rare inside. When cool enough to handle, cut crosswise into thin slices. Put the beef slices into a bowl and toss with lemon and lime juice. Let sit for about 2 minutes.
3. Add two tablespoons of the prepared tamarind sauce to the beef, and then fold in the crisp shallot flakes (optional, you can find at Asian markets and most Asian sections in the grocery store), and basil. Toss to mix. Set aside.
4. Do not peel the plantain, but use a vegetable peeler to remove any black spots. With a mandoline, cut the plantain crosswise into thin slices and put into a bowl of cold water with the 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to prevent discoloration.
5. When ready to serve, pat the plantains dry and arrange the slices on a platter. Arrange a small mound of the rare beef on top of each slice of plantain. Garnish with chopped peanuts.