The raw food wave is washing over the gastronomic world and its apostles are trying to convince us, that lukewarm food is exceptionally much better and healthier than the cooked meals that the most of us consume.
Personally I believe that a meal’s most important qualities is the taste and experience, resulting in the exclusion of words as ‘nutritional balance’ and ‘low fat’ from my vocabulary. However, as a modern and proactive man, I am naturally ready to embrace the new gastronomic trends – especially if it results in a revival of old gastronomic trends.
Therefore I would like to have the honor of bringing back raw food for real men.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Steak Tartare!
The bistro classic steak tartare served with fries – also named filet américain, is nothing less than a brilliant serving which everyone owe themselves to taste. The raw, soft and creamy beef is perfectly balanced by the sharp and pungent flavors from capers, mustard and onions and by the crisp fries.
According to the myth, tartare was originally a meal of horsemeat originating from the Asian nomads the Tatars. To avoid having to stop and cook their evening meal, the Tatars placed a piece of horse meat under their saddles in the morning. During the day, the riding would tenderize the meat, which then was ready to be enjoyed in its raw state in the evening.
Even if the story is great it is unfortunately not quite true. The Tatars did place thin slices of raw horse meat under their saddles, but the reason was more of a medical than a gastronomic justification, as they were convinced that the meat had a healing effect on the horse’s wounds.
The steak tartare had its latest take at dinner tables alongside the shrimp cocktail and lemon fromage – in a rather dull version served on a piece of bad quality white bread, topped with a couple of onion rings and an egg yolk.
In an almost magical way, the shrimp cocktail and the lemon fromage survived and are still served in all “good”restaurants caught in the 80’s. The tartare was not that lucky; it got almost extinguished when words like salmonella, e.coli and mad cow disease became a part of the vocabulary, kick-starting the ‘kill by overcooking’-religion in many kitchens.
Fortunately, the sanitary conditions of food production have improved since the 80’s. So much that it is once again safe to serve the wonderful steak tartare. (That is, if you have a grip on your own kitchen hygiene!).
And remember! The most important thing when you make a tartare, is the quality and freshness of your ingredients.
Personally I would recommend a glass of Bourgogne or Beajoulais on the side, but a Californian Pinot could also be worth a try!
- 0.65-0.90 lb (3-400g) beef sirloin – finely chopped by hand
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1 tbsp chopped capers
- 1 tbsp finely chopped cornichons
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp of ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cognac
- Freshly chopped tarragon and/or flat parsley
- Salt and Pepper
- Mix all ingredients but the meat in a bowl.
- Add the chopped beef and mix well.
- Taste and adjust.
- Shape the tartare as a hamburger in the middle of the plate.
- Serve immediately with homemade french fries (ultimately Heston Blumenthals triple cooked chips) and salad leaves tossed in an oil-vinegar dressing.