Like many dishes with disputed origins that date back to past centuries, steak tartare recipes have many variations. The preparation methods, preferred condiments and flavorings may differ, as well as the type of meat used.
Steak Tartare Stories
The only constant in the legends surrounding steak tartare recipes is that the main ingredient is meat. The meat is traditionally served raw, although one Mexican version marinates it to doneness and a Belgian variation calls for cooking the meat.
The name tartare comes from the nomadic Tartare tribes that roamed Central Asia in the fifth century. They allegedly had no time to cook their food and placed raw meat under their saddles to tenderize it and eat it on the run.
Though it is unclear how the dish made it from the fifth century into contemporary French cuisine, it first turned up on menus in French restaurant around the turn of the 20th century. Dubbed steak a l'Americaine, its description in the famous cookbook Larousse Gastronomique's 1938 edition was raw ground beef mixed with a raw egg yolk. As the recipe grew in popularity, different chefs and countries added their own spices and garnishes to distinguish their versions from others. The most popular variations incorporated onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce and/or raw eggs into the recipe.
Steak Tartare Recipes
Regardless of the seasonings and condiments you choose, be sure the beef and eggs used are the freshest and highest quality available. Since these ingredients are raw when consumed, it is imperative they are free of any bacteria or parasites, so inform the butcher that the meat you are buying is for steak tartare
Traditional Steak Tartare
This copycat recipe is a version of the steak tartare served for decades at the posh Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel.
- 3 medium oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional, adjust salt if added), rinsed and minced
- 2 teaspoons brined capers, drained and rinsed
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 large egg yolks
- 10 ounces USDA prime beef tenderloin or imported Kobe beef, cut into small dice, covered and refrigerated
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 dashes hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed chile flakes (optional)
- In a non-metal bowl, mix and mash the anchovies, capers and mustard with a fork or spoon until well combined.
- Mix in the egg yolks until well incorporated with the other ingredients.
- Gently fold the remaining ingredients into the egg mixture until well mixed.
- Season to taste with coarsely ground salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve garnished with parsley sprigs, with French fries or toast points on the side.
Steak Tartare II
This version is appropriate as a first course or appetizer. The beef is ground more finely than in the original version.
- 1 pound finely ground beef tenderloin
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon brandy
- 1 pinch salt, or to taste
- Ground white pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- Thoroughly combine the beef with the remaining ingredients.
- Form the meat into an attractive patty or loaf on a decorative ceramic or glass dish.
- Cover the dish with foil or plastic wrap and let the flavors marry in the refrigerator for about a half hour.
- Surround with crackers or toast rounds on which to spread the tartare.
Raw and Rare
Diners frequently shun steak tartare because eating raw meat is unusual or diners fear ill health effects from its consumption. High quality beef generally poses no health risks and once you taste the delicate flavor of steak tartare, it may become a favorite treat to prepare at home.