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To make the marinade, pound the black pepper in a mortar and pestle into a powder, then add the garlic and pound into a fine paste. Add all remaining marinade ingredients and stir to mix well.
Place the steaks into a dish just big enough to hold them in one layer, or put them in a freezer bag. Add the marinade and move the steaks around to ensure they're thoroughly coated.
Marinate the steaks for a minimum of 3 hours and up to overnight. Bring the steaks out 1 hour before grilling so they will not be too cold and will cook more evenly.Note: Marinated steaks, especially ones with sugar like this, are better suited for the grill. Pan searing is fine but the marinade will more easily burn with direct contact to the hot oil. So without a grill, I would recommend doing a quick sear on the pan just to get it nice and browned, then finishing it off on a rack in the oven.
Grill the steaks to your preferred doneness. I like grilling them on high heat with the lid open to ensure they have nice grill marks. See the video above for more grilling tips.
In a small bowl, combine the tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar and stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Stir in the shallots and the chili flakes and set aside while you make the toasted rice powder; don't worry about any undissolved sugar chunks.
Make the toasted rice powder: In a dry skillet, add the rice and toast it over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the grains are deep brown (see video for the colour you're going for). Pour onto a plate to cool, then grind in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder into a mostly-fine powder.
Close to serving time, stir the sauce; the sugar should now be completely dissolved, and if there are a few stubborn chunks, they can be easily smushed with the back of a spoon. Stir in the toasted rice powder and cilantro or mint.