What is Homemade Steak Tartare?
This classic dish consists of finely chopped raw beef, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, shallots, cornichons, capers, herbs, and egg yolk. Most serve it with toasted baguette or crostini, crackers, or chips.
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Why I chose to create Japanese flavor profiles rather than modifying a more classic interpretation of Homemade Steak Tartare.
I have spent much time traveling throughout Japan and what I love most about the culture and food is the quality, execution, and attention to detail in every dish. There are so many versions of homemade steak tartare that restaurants and chefs create in different countries and regions worldwide. However, I found no recipes that outline Japanese flavors.
Quality is paramount as everything is raw in this recipe, and I thought the exquisiteness of Japanese flavors would pair perfectly with this dish! The rich umami of soy sauce and the nutty smoothness of toasted sesame oil works wonderfully to compliment the taste of the beef, while the scallions and heat of jalapeno add the perfect crunch.
What is the origin of Homemade Steak Tartare?
Many stories center around this dish. One famous origination story was during the 13th and 14th centuries when Mongol warriors conquered Europe by horseback. A distinct group of warriors called ‘Taters’ (a conglomeration of different ethnic groups hailed from northern or central Asia) placed thin slices of raw horsemeat meat under their saddles. After a long day of riding, the meat was adequately tenderized and ready to eat raw.
However, this story was later questioned because the meat would have been too sweat laden and rancid to eat. Instead, it was determined the horse meat under the saddle was meant to prevent saddle sores for the horse.
The popularity of eating raw meat in Europe
Horsemeat was eaten throughout the centuries in Europe as flavorful and delicate meat. It was thought that eating raw, fresh meat was a delicacy and a way to build a good constitution. The French legalized eating horsemeat in 1866 when pork and beef were too expensive for struggling families. Eventually, it became taboo to eat this meat, as horses became loving pets and trustworthy companions to families. However, you can still find horse butcher shops throughout France.
The rise of Steak Tartare in the 20th Century
Steak instead of horse became popularized throughout Europe in the 20th Century when a recipe was published in 1921 in the famous Escoffier’s “Le Guide Culinaire Cookbook.” This recipe was for “Steak à l’Americaine,” which consisted of chopped beef blended with salt and pepper molded into a cake and served with tartare sauce on the side with no egg yolk.
During this time, ‘Tartare’ was served with tartar sauce. It was a sauce developed in Europe, South Africa, and Australia from hard-boiled eggs, lemon, mayonnaise, capers, and herbs.
In 1938 another famous French cookbook, “Larousse Gastronomique,” published a recipe for “Steak à la tartare,” which was chopped beef blended with spices served with an egg on top and without tartare sauce. So eventually, these two dishes merged to create what we know today as Steak Tartare.
A version of this dish also surfaced in America in the 1950s when it appeared on menus in NYC called “Hamburg Steak,” a filet of beef minced and lightly smoked and served with onions and breadcrumbs. Now “tartare” can refer to any raw meat, vegetable, or seafood dish.
Here’s how to make this Homemade Japanese Steak Tartare
Homemade Japanese Steak Tartare Ingredients
Beef: I buy the most organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, high-quality beef tenderloin. Tenderloin is very tender, lean, and succulent and does not contain much fat. As a result, here are the reasons why buying tenderloin is so expensive:
1) It only makes up around 2-3 % of the cow.
2) It’s in a prime location, which makes it a non-weight-bearing muscle.
3) The meat is always tender because the cow does not overuse this muscle.
Scallions: I love using green onions for their color and delicacy. They also add a lovely “bite” and texture.
Jalapeño: When mincing the jalapeño, remove all the seeds and the inner pith. The seeds are the hottest part of the pepper. If you enjoy the heat, you can add more if so desired.
Cilantro: The minced cilantro adds a lovely freshness and herbaceous quality to the tartare that lifts through the meat’s heaviness.
Sesame Seeds: The toasted sesame seeds add a superb texture to the mixture and a nutty crunch that offsets the other elements.
Soy Sauce: I always use low-sodium soy sauce to be healthier. However, any soy sauce will work for this recipe. Tamari is also fantastic!
Sesame Oil: Always buy toasted sesame oil with a dark brown color for a richer, nuttier flavor. This oil beautifully coats the meat and the vegetables and makes the dish silky and smooth.
Kosher Salt: Using high-quality Kosher salt is an absolute MUST for cooking! It will provide a better final product!
Egg Yolk: The egg yolk adds a velvety richness to the tartare.
Chili Oil: I like to finish this dish with chili oil because it adds a beautiful color and a different heat note than the jalapeño, which adds to the silky texture because it is an oil. This is entirely optional.
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife or Santoku knife
- Stainless steel bowl set or glass mixing bowl set
- Liquid measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Large metal mixing spoon
- Place the filet mignon on a cutting board and cut thin planks across the natural grain of the meat. It is essential not to cut with the grain, as the meat will tear.
- Take each beef plank and cut across the grain into thin strips.
- Line up the beef strips and cut them into a fine dice. Place the beef in a large mixing bowl and reserve.
- Line up the scallions on a slight angle and slice them as thin as possible from white to green. Place half the chopped scallions with the beef, and reserve the other half for garnish.
- Lob off both the stem and tip end of the jalapeño.
- Make one long slice through the base of the jalapeño opening it, creating two halves.
- Carve out the core and seeds from both halves of the pepper and discard.
- Cut the jalapeño into planks and then planks into strips. Make sure the shiny side of the pepper faces down, and the rough side faces up, as this is much easier to cut.
- Chop the strips into a small dice. Add to the chopped beef and the scallions.
- Separate the cilantro leaves from the stems—Reserve the stems for vegetable stock or another use.
- Roll the cilantro leaves into a small ball and thinly slice them into ribbons. Add to the bowl with the beef, scallions, and jalapeños.
- Measure the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt. Add the soy sauce to the bowl, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt, and then mix until combined.
- Individually plate the mixture into a circular mound, and make a small indent on the top.
- Carefully place the egg yolk in the indent, and sprinkle with the remaining scallions and chili oil.
- Serve with your favorite toast, cracker, or chip.
Tips and tricks for success:
- When mixing, it is important to be delicate and use a folding technique to scoop under the meat and lift it over while turning the bowl a quarter rotation.
- This will ensure that your meat does not get tough from over-mixing. If you overmix the beef, it will become tough. The mixture should be light and somewhat airy. The tartare is a delicate dish that needs care and attention when combined.
- Thus, it is best to gently FOLD all the elements together three to four times just until combined.
- I like to use a small amount of jalapeño to round out the favors in the tartare and give it a bit of a bite. When slicing the jalapeño, you should do so skin-side down, so your knife can easily cut through. The shiny outer skin is much harder to pierce through.
We often feed raw beef to our beloved dogs or other pets as a high-protein food that mimics what they would eat in the wild. But is it safe for humans to consume? The answer is yes, but to proceed with caution and care.
Sometimes illness-causing bacteria can live in raw meats, such as Salmonella, Escherichia Coli (E. Coli), and Staphylococcus aureus, leading to foodborne illness/ aka food poisoning. For example, food poisoning can happen with many beloved raw dishes like sushi.
Does it mean we should never eat these delicacies? The answer is no. Raw meat is nutrient-dense and can be exquisitely decadent if prepared correctly. Thus, following my trustworthy guidelines is crucial for safe raw beef consumption!
Note: Because there is not a 100% guarantee that all bacteria will be eliminated when following the steps below, it is recommended that pregnant women, young children, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system refrain from eating raw beef.
Here’s how to safely eat raw beef at home
Buy your beef from a reputable butcher.
- When eating raw, it is imperative to buy the freshest and highest quality organic and grass-fed beef. The butcher will be able to tell you when the meat was processed and ensure that you are getting the properly selected cut for your tartare (a portion of the tenderloin, which we will discuss below). This is why this dish tends to be so expensive and decadent. It is paramount ONLY to use the best cut of meat from a reputable source, as you will be consuming it raw.
- Never buy pre-ground beef from the grocery store.
- You always want to start with a whole piece of beef and chop it yourself.
- Again, you ALWAYS want to buy from a reputable source.
- Properly handled whole muscles have a lower risk of developing bacteria.
- Refrigerate the meat as soon as possible after purchase.
- You want to keep your meat below 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) to keep the bacteria growth to a minimum. Bacteria like to grow and spread in moist, room-temperature areas.
- Note: If you want to be EXTRA cautious, you can freeze your beef for 15-20 minutes. This will kill off any unwarranted bacteria and make it easier to cut your beef. However, this does slightly mute the taste of the meat.
- Make sure you cut your beef on a clean surface with clean hands.
- When you follow basic hygiene, the risk of bacteria development is relatively low.
- Eat as soon as you can.
- It is best to make this dish and then eat it shortly afterward. Again, bacteria need time to grow, and we don’t want to give our steak tartare this chance.
Can I make steak tartare ahead of time, and how long will it keep in my refrigerator?
- The answer to this is no. As stated above, eating this dish right away is best to eliminate the possibility of bacteria growth. You should not make this dish ahead of time or allow it to sit in the refrigerator.
What cut of beef is best for Homemade Steak Tartare?
- You want to use a portion of the tenderloin for this dish. The tenderloin is an oblong piece of meat. It runs along both sides of the spine and sits beneath the ribs, next to the backbone. It has two ends: the butt, the thicker end, and the tail, the pointy end closer to the cow’s behind.
- The central, more significant portion of the tenderloin in the US is filet mignon. This is the narrow part of the tenderloin near the short loin.
- The French call the smaller central portion of the tenderloin tournedos, and the larger, more central cut the châteaubriand.
- Châteaubriand was originally a dish in France of a large center-cut of beef tenderloin grilled between two lesser cuts of meat that were then thrown away after cooking. This dish was served with a reduced sauce of white wine, shallots, herbs, lemon, and demi-glace. The term châteaubriand is known to be a cut of meat that is synonymous with the American filet mignon. This dish was served with a reduced sauce of white wine, shallots, herbs, lemon, and demi-glace.
- You should not use the tail-end of the tenderloin, as it is the cow’s shock absorber at the back of the cow’s behind and is not as tender or flavorful.
- I recommend using the filet mignon or the châteaubriand, as they are the most tender and flavorful with the least amount of connective tissue and sinew.
- This dish is expensive because there is only a tiny portion of the tenderloin and a fraction of the cow used to make this dish.
Is it safe to consume raw eggs?
- Eating raw eggs has risks like beef.
- The most preeminent foodborne illness that comes from eating raw eggs is Salmonella.
- This bacteria can develop in two ways:
- Directly when the egg forms inside the hen.
- When the bacteria contaminate the outside of the shell. Sometimes it can seep through the shell’s membrane.
- With that being said, the US now uses the process of pasteurization (the heated and holding treatment for eggs that significantly reduces and kills off most bacteria and microorganisms) to treat all eggs.
- In 1970, the US Department of Agriculture passed the Egg Inspection Act that requires all eggs sold in the US for consumption to be pasteurized.
- Pasteurization does not provide a 100% guarantee that all bacteria will be eliminated, so it is very important that you follow my safety raw-eating egg guidelines below.
- Note: There is no 100% guarantee that all bacteria are eliminated when following the steps below. Thus, I recommend pregnant women, young children, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system refrain from eating raw eggs.
How to safely consume raw eggs at home
- When buying eggs, ensure they are high quality, pasteurized, and have not passed their noted expiration date.
- Discard any cracked or dirty eggs when you open your carton at home.
- Eggs with a crack are exposed to oxygen and the outside world. Because of this, they can breed bacteria and microorganisms.
- Refrigerate your eggs immediately after purchase.
- Bacteria grow in room-temperature areas, and you want to eliminate the chance for this to happen.
- Make sure you have clean hands and a clean work surface when handling.
- When separating the yolk from the white, use clean hands instead of passing the egg back and forth from shell to shell.
- Because Salmonella is found on the shell in most cases, we don’t want to risk the chance of bacteria getting into the egg.
- Consume your eggs right after cracking.
- It’s not a good idea to keep cracked eggs left out or in the refrigerator for an extended time. You are leaving them open to possibly developing harmful bacteria by doing this.
Is Homemade Steak Tartare healthy for you?
- Both beef and eggs are nutrient-dense foods that contain abundant vitamins and minerals.
- They are both great sources of protein.
- When any cooking process occurs, you essentially decrease the raw food’s number of nutrients.
- So, many believe that eating raw is extremely healthy for you, as you are consuming the original and thus most beneficial amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
- Vegetarian: Replace firm tofu for the beef.
- Vegan: Use tofu for the beef, and instead of egg yolk, drizzle sesame paste over the final product to create a creaminess.
- Herbs: Replace flat-leaf parsley for the cilantro
- Soy, Gluten, or Seed Allergy:
- Extra Spicy: Add a teaspoon of chili oil or chili crisp.
Suggested Meal Pairings
Homemade Japanese Steak Tartare
- 1 Cutting board
- 1 Chef's knife
- 1 Medium-sized mixing bowl
- 1 Liquid measuring cup
- 1 Set Dry measuring spoons
- 1 Large mixing spoon
- 7 oz filet mignon
- 2 scallions minced
- 2 teaspoons about ¼ jalapeño, minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons cilantro minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon white or black sesame seeds toasted
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk
- Chili oil for garnish
- Cut the tenderloin into thin planks. Mince it as finely as possible and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Reserve.
- Add half of the scallions (reserve the other half for garnish), jalapeño, and cilantro.
- Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt, and gently fold with a large spoon to mix evenly.
- Individually plate the mixture into a circular mound and make a small indent on the top of the rise for the egg yolk to sit.
- Carefully place the egg yolk on top of the mound and sprinkle with the remaining scallions and chili oil.
- Serve with your favorite toast, cracker, or chip.
- When mixing, it is important to be delicate and use a folding technique where you scoop under the meat and lift it over while turning the bowl a quarter rotation.
- This will ensure that your meat does not get tough from over mixing. If you overmix the beef, it will become tough and weighted. The mixture should be light and somewhat airy. The tartare is a delicate dish that needs care and attention when combined.
- Thus, it is best to gently FOLD all the elements together three to four times just until combined.
- When slicing the jalapeño, you should do so skin-side down, so your knife can easily cut through. The shiny outer skin is much harder to pierce through. I like to use a small amount of jalapeño to round out the flavors in the tartare and give it a bit of a bite.