Steak Tartare: Raw Egg + Raw Meat = Perfection

Steak Tartare

France does not claim steak tartare as its own, but the French do treat the dish as a child lovingly adopted into the fold. It appeals to their less squeamish approach to food – along with piglet trotters, frogs’ legs and snails – and also to the widespread aversion to actually cooking things (even medium-rare steaks ooze blood.)

With steak tartare, French chefs can go for gold by not letting a single flame warm the cherished final product. For extra flourish, waiters then mix the ingredients at the table and entice you into the magic by asking how you like it blended.

It seduces me every time.

It doesn’t matter to me that Worcestershire sauce has infiltrated most recipes. Nor that my friend Dr Yeap warned me about toxoplasmosis and various other communicable diseases. I fell in love with steak tartare in Toulouse and neither raw egg nor raw meat can keep me away.

Under certain conditions. (Because those infectious disease lectures from medical school still bubble up from time to time.)

It has to be in a restaurant that I trust. And luckily, France has plenty of those. My favourite restaurant in Toulouse is Chez Carmen. Like steak tartare, the appeal isn’t immediately obvious. It’s opposite a museum called the Abattoirs, it still hasn’t washed the graffiti off its doors and its terrace merges with a main road.

However, the museum in question actually used to BE Toulouse’s abattoir and from this, Chez Carmen carved a reputation of serving some of the finest and freshest meat in Toulouse. When it opens its doors, the red-chequered tablecloths and old wooden barrels work their own magic, transporting you to the kind of France pictured in romantic films set in the 1940s.

But what if you’re not in Toulouse and want to try a little of the magic yourself?

Simply mix this all together – according to taste.

PS – just like gazpacho, everything depends on the quality of ingredients, instead of a complicated recipe. Unlike gazpacho, if your ingredients aren’t fresh enough, you risk serious illness. There, disclaimer said.

600g beef fillet
50g gherkins
50g capers
50g shallot
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
3 egg yolks
7 drops of Tabasco (if you’re brave enough. Otherwise reduce)
1½ teaspoons of Worchester Sauce
A few squirts of tomato ketchup (in French cooking? I know, I know)
10g Dijon mustard
A dash of lemon juice

Bon App!

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10 Responses to Steak Tartare: Raw Egg + Raw Meat = Perfection

  1. Mary and Sean August 28, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    ooh, the gerkins ingredient intrigues me, I have to say!

    Abi, sorry I didn't get to link to this post for travel foodie friday, but you're welcome to add it in the comments section… I'm also curious about your take on my other post about "guilty pleasures".

    About your steak tartar, when I was 16, I had a french boyfriend and visited him in Paris. We went out to lunch together apart from my mother (who refused to let me alone with him for too long). anyway, I remember he ordered steak tartar, and being a naive american country girl at that time, I thought it was the most bizarre thing ever…now I think I'd love it. I'm going to try your recipe!

  2. Mikeachim August 30, 2009 at 5:08 am #

    I'd like to try it, never having. But…yes. The prudish, squeamish, English side of me is having an Armitage-Shanks-prayer moment.

    What is the difference in taste? What makes steak tartare so appealing?

  3. Abi King August 30, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    So far, I've never had to call on faithful Armitage-Shanks (manufacturer of bathroom 'furniture') after steak tartare. I keep my fingers crossed.

    Steak tartare appeals to the side of me that likes simple things done very well, with a splash of showmanship.

    It reminds me of sushi in that regard – and like sushi you can adapt it to suit your taste. A bit more crunch – a few more gherkins. A bit more spice – more Tabasco.

    I've only ever eaten it outside on a warm, sunny day, though. When I've been drenched by the grey British skies I've always chosen to eat something warm…

  4. Andrea August 30, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    I've never been able to bring myself to eat steak tartare.

  5. Abi King August 31, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Have your first taste when you're dining out with friends – and order a selection of main courses. That way if, once you've tasted it, you don't like it then you don't have to sit hungry for the rest of the meal…

  6. Tule September 15, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    I love this dish is my favourite!

  7. Abi December 23, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    Glad you like it! Here’s to fearless eating ;)

  8. Annie August 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    well I just came from an Oxford pub where they served me steak trtare (I ordered it without realizing what it was!) and while I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, it certainly tasted fine (served with raw egg). It’s nice to be adventurous sometimes..

  9. Abi September 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Ooh…I haven’t seen it in Oxford yet. Perhaps the UK is getting more adventurous!

  10. Em January 3, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    In reference to your sentence: “(even medium-rare steaks ooze blood.)”

    Just FYI, the red in steak is not blood, it’s myoglobin.

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