Steak tartare, also referred to as Beef Tartare, may not be on people’s radar like a good steak off the grill, but it’s so tasty, unique, and sensuous (the way sushi can be) that it will instantly be the talking point at your table. Or countertop, since this is typically served as an appetizer.
It is often believed to be a French dish since it’s so popular there, but it has its origins with the Tatars in and around what is modern-day Mongolia (using horse meat most commonly!). Given the history of the Mongols and Tatars invading Russia and Eastern Europe over many centuries, it should come as no surprise that it made its way to France, where modern-day chefs mastered its preparation.
My recipe stays true to the modern French style but I incorporate some of my own creations to put my spin on it. For one, I serve with some homemade pickles, but some store-bought French cornichons will do in a pinch (the Maille brand are great).
For the mustard I tend to use my lacto-fermented mustard recipe which happens to be the most popular recipe I’ve ever written. For the Worcestershire sauce, lately I’ve been making my own and using that (it’s delicious and the recipe can be found in my newest cookbook, “More Insane in the Brine: The 2nd Official Cookbook!).
Last but not least among my own personal touches I put on the tartare, it is typical to serve a runny yolk over the tartare, but I had just finished making some salt-cured egg yolks using the leftover flavored salt mash from a batch of “cured-cumber” (another recipe in my new cookbook).
Salt-cured yolks are made by placing a raw yolk on a deep bed of salt and then covering it with salt. This can be done in a snapware type container and then stored in the fridge for about 5-7 days until they’re done. They become quite solid and don’t run well (or at all) so you’ll end up needing to cut or break it up when you serve it with your tartare. Some choose to dry out their cured eggs in a dehydrator or on a metal baking rack at a low temp in the oven, which also allows them to be grated like parmesan. I could see this being another great way to serve the cured yolks on the tartare.
The above ideas are great options for steak tartare in my view, but are 100% optional. Further, steak tartare doesn’t have to have any yolk served over it – either cured or runny – because there is already yolk in the dressing which is folded into the meat; additional runny yolk atop the tartare makes the final product even richer and silkier, which you may or may not prefer.
Of course, when you make your beef tartare, you can use all store-bought ingredients and don’t need to use any of the homemade items I mentioned.
For my featured photo, I had just run out of my homemade sourdough baguette so I made do with the store-bought cracked-pepper wheat crackers. It was really delicious but either is an option and personally I’d probably go with toasted baguette slices if given the choice. Other popular accompaniments are thin-cut homemade French fries or potato chips. (Now I can’t stop thinking about my fermented fries from my first cookbook served with this dish, lol!)
The following recipe was made using one 6 oz. filet mignon (175g). This was actually enough to serve 3 or even 4 people as an appetizer, and was plenty for one as a main course (I was the lucky recipient of that option!). Double or increase the recipe as needed.
Shelf life: Serve immediately
- Cutting board and sharp knife
- Measuring spoons
- Citrus zester
- Garlic press (optional)
- Medium mixing bowl and whisk
- 6 oz. Filet Mignon (or any very lean cut such as from the tenderloin, sirloin, or top round will do nicely) (175g)
- 1 TBSP capers, drained and minced
- 2 TBSP shallot, minced
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp lemon juice (fresh) and zest of 1/2 lemon (retain some for garnish)
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP light olive oil (or other neutral oil); careful, don’t use extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 TBSP chopped parsley (retain some for garnish)
- 2 TBSP spicy or Dijon mustard + 1 TBSP on the side
- Salt & pepper to taste (around 1/8 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp salt)
- Plate a side of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and pickles as tasty accompaniments
1.) Cut the steak into 1″ cubes and then place in the freezer for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, mustard and egg yolk. Whisk continuously & vigorously while very slowly pouring in the oil until emulsified, then whisk in the shallots, capers, garlic, salt, pepper, and most of the parsley and lemon zest (saving some of each as garnish).
2.) Hand chop the meat to the desired texture. Featured photo shows fairly well minced but it can go even further to an almost creamy state, or alternately can be larger such as pea-sized chunks. (Instead of cutting, if desired pulse the meat in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the standard S-blade.)
3.) Fold the dressing and meat together; this can be done by hand or with a spoon but work quickly. Plate the tartare using a pastry ring around 3.25″. Add any other accompaniments and serve promptly.