Written by Rebecca Peters-Golden
When I first stepped out of the cab into the center of Stockholm, I stared, slack-jawed, at a jewel-blue sky filled with the kind of puffy clouds I had always thought were the province solely of a Jacob van Ruisdael painting.
The city, consisting of 14 islands connected by waterways, was a harmony of history and modernization—in some places a maze of uneven alleyways that opened onto cobblestone squares, and in others wide swaths of parks studded with glittering modern architecture.
The thing I was most excited by, though, was the food.
Because I was there in the summer, the weather was mild and the sun was beginning to set around 10:00 pm. Dinner started late and diners lingered into the night as the sun set over the water.
Nearly every restaurant had its doors flung open to the fresh air and half its tables on the patio, each chair draped with a thick blanket should you want to snuggle up when the temperature dropped.
Unlike outdoor restaurants in Paris, though, where you might linger over a cheese plate or a glass of wine, I found Swedish food hearty and unfamiliar, the taste combinations unexpected.
Though I didn’t try anything so adventurous as reindeer or Surströmming (fermented Baltic herring), I loved the simple preparations of local ingredients that prevailed across the city.
In Gamla stan (The Old town), my mother and I dined outside, in a tucked-away square filled with restaurants, ice cream vendors, and busking fiddlers, not far from the Nobel Prize Museum.
It was there I discovered my favorite dish of the trip, steak with caper sauce.
When I bit into the steak, the juice from the capers blended with the seared meat in a flood of savory flavor. It’s such a simple combination, but one I’d never tried before.
Though my visit to Stockholm was four long years ago, I’ve thought of this steak with caper sauce ever since I returned home and have always meant to try and replicate its memorable flavor.
But, though I saw the dish listed on multiple menus in Stockholm, I couldn’t find a recipe for it anywhere, despite my frantic Googling. Finally, I decided that if the world wide web and multiple cookbooks wouldn’t yield the recipe up to me, then I’d have to create my own version.
What I came up with combines my favorite elements of steak au poivre with the wonderful brininess of capers for a dish that tastes both rich and bright, and only takes about twenty minutes to prepare.
Try it at home with flank steak or any thin, tender steak cut.
Now that I know steak with caper sauce is such a fantastic combination, I can work on making the summer weather in Philadelphia more like Stockholm . . .
- 1 pound flank steak or tender beef cut of your choice
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons brandy (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon caper brine
- fresh chives for garnish
- Season the steak generously on bothl sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, and set your steak in the pan.
- Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak registers 135 degrees F.
- When you have only a minute or two left of your cooking time, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan to finish your steak.
- Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest.
- Using the same pan, turn the heat down to medium, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another minute.
- Stir in the white wine, brandy, capers, and caper brine. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the butter is melted and the sauce thickens.
- Slice the steak and transfer to a platter.
- Pour the sauce over the steak and finish by snipping a few chives over the top. Smaklig måltid!