Portrait of a recipe

Fantasy master Raymond E. Feist uses food when writing fantasy in many ways, one of the most common of which is to build his characters.

“Food is occasionally useful in a narrative to reveal something about a character, a quirk,” says Raymond. “To have a convincing character, you need to show them do several things: intentionality obviously; and then something that’s habitual is useful; and then something that’s gratuitous. Having the villain pet the dog is the old classic, if you want to show the dimension of the villain, you have the villain pet the dog, or argue about food, complain about how it’s cooked … It’s the common things. The things that we all share.”

In real life, Ray is not overly experimental, despite having great foodie friends whom he keenly observes for inspiration. He proclaims himself a steak and potatoes man, can describe in detail the art of creating the perfect grill, and says his favourite meal is cajun steak. He is adamant that it must be served with sauce.

So we opted for the following Cajun steak recipe from www.carlsbadcravings.com because it had a glaze which we were fairly sure would count as sauce. And after cooking it, we have to agree with Raymond. It is delicious. And fairly easy. If you don’t want to make your own cajun rub, you can buy Cajun spice mix and use that to save time.

  • 1.5-to-2 kilo tri-tip roast (also known as triangle steak or bottom sirloin cut)

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tbsp orange juice

  • 2 tbsp Cajun spice mix (directions follow – or buy some from the supermarket)

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp each of paprika, smoked paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, chilli powder

  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 tsp each of cayenne pepper and salt

  • 1 tsp each dried basil, dried thyme, pepper

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam with chunks of fruit, or orange marmalade

  • 1/3 cup orange juice

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

  • 1 tsp reserved Cajun spices (in directions)


Spice rub/marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the Cajun spice mix/rub. Add 2 tablespoons to a freezer size plastic bag along with all of the marinade ingredients. Whisk together. Pierce steak all over with a fork and add to marinade. Massage marinade into steak and seal bag. Marinate 8-24 hours, turning bag occasionally. Store remaining reserved Cajun spice mix in a sealed container/bag.

When ready to grill, remove 1 teaspoon of the reserved Cajun spice mix and add it to a small saucepan for your apricot orange glaze. Whisk all remaining Cajun spice mix with 3 tablespoons olive oil and rub all over steak while it comes to room temperature – 30-60 minutes.

Grill: Grease and preheat grill to 200 degrees Celsius. Sear roast for 3-5 minutes per side, cover, and turn heat down to 175 degrees Celsius. Grill for 15 minutes, flip, cover, and cook an additional 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your steak cut and how well done you want your steak. Watch closely that your temperature stays around 175 degrees Celsius.

Check for “doneness” with a meat thermometer inserted right in the middle of the steak. Thermometer should read: 57 degrees Celsius for medium rare and 63 degrees Celsius for medium. The outside of the roast will get quite dark with a charred crust.

Remove steak from grill, cover loosely with foil and  rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain. Serve with the apricot orange glaze (recipe follows).

Apricot orange glaze: while the steak is grilling, whisk together all of the apricot orange glaze ingredients in small sauce pan with reserved 1 teaspoon Cajun spice mix. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until reduced and thickened.

Sarah’s notes: If you have no apricot jam, orange marmalade will suffice. A tablespoon of white vinegar can also provide some acidity in the glaze. 

Image Credit: Sarah Mills