Served in high end French restaurants throughout the world, who would have thought this dish which represents culinary excellence, actually had a humble beginning made by rampaging Mongols, who would place raw horse meat under their saddles to tenderize the meat before eating raw for dinner after a long day of riding.
800 years later it gained traction as fashionable and classy dish served in high-end hotels in Paris in the early 20th century. Because of the wide popularization of this dish throughout the world, its origin has been greatly debated and several variations have risen over time. The term tartare is believed to have originated from the European term steak a l’Americaine which was then translated into a dish that is served with tartar sauce without the egg yolk. Over time, the distinction between the two varieties has been blurred and the term Steak tartare has been widely accepted for both.
From raw horse meat, this dish has evolved into a delicate mixture finely chopped raw tenderloin beef steak, seasoned with salt and pepper, a dash of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, mustard and mixed with a raw egg yolk, chopped onions, shallots, capers, chopped parsley and chopped pickled gherkins. All the ingredients are combined and molded into hamburger patty.
That being said, there are several versions of how different cultures cook Steak tartare. Steak tartare has evolved from being a jerked meat to several variations across the globe, especially around Europe. The common denominator in serving this dish across the globe is that you are supposed to use premium quality meat. It is also commonly served with a raw quail or chicken egg placed atop in the half shell of the egg. Side dishes can include warm toasted bread, or a light salad. In most countries such as Slovakia and France, a steak tartare is served as ground meat, usually sirloin, that is accompanied by a raw egg at the middle of the formed meat that is mixed with herbs, spices, and condiments. In some countries, the meat is used as a spread placed on top a rye bread and other toppings such as in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Since steak tartare is eaten raw, several people are hesitant to eat this dish if it were not to be served in a restaurant. The key to making sure nothing bad happens to you for consuming steak tartare is to make sure that you are using the best quality whole meat. When your local deli store grinds their meat, the bacteria naturally living on the surface of your meat is blended in. This is because ground meat is intended to be cooked before eating.
Take precautionary steps to make sure that eating your steak tartare will be an enjoyable one and there will be no unnecessary trips outside your house after dinner.
The following recipe was handed to me by the owner of a small French Brasserie, along the Boulevard Du Montparnasse in Paris. After a long night of drinking he handed me this hand scribbled recipe he had written on the page of a book he had torn from. After stumbling back to my hotel and day of recovery I discovered the hand written recipe. I went back along the Boulevard to find the Brasserie but for the love of me could not remember where it was, or even its name. So I proudly present to you dear readers my authentic Parisian recipe.
Steak tartare RecipeCourse: MainCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy
- Steak tartare
600g beef eye fillet, cut into 5mm dice
1 teaspoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon of Sea salt flakes
80 gm golden shallots, peeled and very finely chopped
50 gm small salted capers, rinsed and drained, finely chopped
35 gm cornichons, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, plus extra to serve
1 tablespoon of ketchup
50ml Light Olive Oil
30ml of French Cognac
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
¼ teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
1 egg yolk per guest. ( 6 egg yolks)
6 ciabatta slices or French baguette (about ½cm thick)
Olive oil, for brushing
Coarsely chopped parsley, to serve
- Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and add the mustard and anchovies. Mix well, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, sea salt and pepper and mix well again. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add the Cognac and mix again. Fold in the onion, capers, cornichons, and parsley.
- Add the chopped meat to the bowl and mix well.
- Divide the meat evenly among the six chilled dinner plates and, using a ring mold or spatula, form it into disks on the plates.
- Make a small indentation in the top and add an egg yolk to each one.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Brush both sides of ciabatta slices with olive oil, and then bake on an oven tray, turning once, until golden brown (7-8 minutes). Cool briefly.
- Serve with toasted ciabatta slices, and scatter with parsley and serve with Dijon mustard.
tips and tricks
- Steak tartare is eaten as raw meat and can adversely affect your health if prepared without precautions. Make sure that the meat you will be using is high quality and your bench is always clean.
- Remember that steak tartare must be made from whole lean meat. Ground meat means it has already been processed and that the natural microflora of the meat has been mixed into the ground meat knowing that it will be cooked.
- To ensure that your meat is safe to consume raw, some preparations can be made: wash the meat under cold water and coat it liberally with salt. Leave it in the refrigerator for about two to three hours then rinse it off very well. Salt draws out moisture from the cells of potential pathogens and kills them.
- You can quickly poach the egg yolk to cook off its outer layer for 15 seconds.