Last Saturday I was kindly given a Sika Deer steak,deep crimson red with a line of ivory coloured fat surrounding the cut.
I was told by Chris from Winterbourne Game that this was one of the finest deer to eat, totally lean and with its own unique flavour where the fat when cooked has a sweet taste to it. Sika is an Asian species but can be found in the US and in a few herd in the UK, some in the New Forest and in the Highlands.
To most venison is just the same but it’s not. Sika has a fine grain in the muscle structure and is much leaner so you don’t want to over cook it, a couple of minutes both sides for a stake is all you’ll need.
You don’t want to overpower the flavour of Sika with strong ingredients such as garlic or steak seasoning, a simple dressing of light olive oil with crushed sea Cornish salt, black pepper and one or two crushed juniper berries is all you need, then pan fry at a high heat. Allow to rest and if required de-glaze the pan with a drop of red wine and a small knob of Somerset unsalted butter from the guys at Gilcombe Farm, add half a bay leaf and allow the flavour to infuse .
As new season spinach is around this small leaf variety is an ideal vegetable to serve lightly steamed with piping hot Maris Piper mash.
Finally a good Lodi, Zinfandel or Merlot red wine to go with this.
You can find Winterbourne Game and Gilcombe Farm stalling out at the Barnes Farmers Market each Saturday in SW13 near the iconic village pond. See http://www.somersetorganics.co.uk