Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but this dish continues to be a fine dining favourite – in France and further afield. Michelin-starred British chef Tom Aikens brings us his version of steak tartare with all the trimmings…
Read: Tom Aiken’s chef highlight
Origins of the steak tartare
According to legend, the Tatar warriors of Mongolia used to tenderise meat by placing it beneath their saddles as they rode, later eating it raw. What’s more likely is that these horsemen used raw meat to protect their steeds from saddle sores while galloping across the Asian steppes.
The ﬁrst version, though, makes for a far more dynamic story, as imagined in Libération newspaper: “If there’s one dish we can associate with the savagery and brutality of war, it must be steak tartare,” wrote Emmanuel Guillemain d’Echon in a recent article. “With this recipe, you can cook at the same time as waging war. The meat cooks (more or less) beneath the saddle. Crucial, because when you’re staging an invasion, there’s no time to lose.
“You arrive, you disembowel everyone and then you calmly savour your steak as you dismount from your horse. Steak tartare is the meat of barbarians, of savages, or prehistoric man. The exact opposite of civilised man’s pot-au-feu.”
Read: Veal pot-au-feu recipe
It seems the recipe for steak tartare ﬁrst arrived in France during the second half of the 19th century, when raw horse meat became popular. No one knows when beef steak tartare ﬁrst appeared on menus, although some historians believe the novelist Jules Verne had a role in its evolution. In his 1875 novel Michel Strogoﬀ, set in Tsarist Russia, he described a Russian dish called koulbat or coulibiac. “Pâté fait avec de la viande pilée et des œufs” (a patty made of pounded meat and eggs). It’s possible that Parisian restaurateurs read this and came up with their own version.
Steak tartare by Tom Aikens
For the tartare
- 38 g (1⅓ oz) banana shallots, finely chopped
- 60 g (2oz) cornichons chopped
- 60 g (2oz) capers
- ⅓ red chilli finely chopped
- 125 g (4½ oz) Heinz tomato ketchup
- 30 g (1oz) Dijon mustard
- 135 g (4¾ oz) mayonnaise
- A few drops of Tabasco
- A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
- 17 ml (½ fl oz) brandy
- 5 turns of freshly milled pepper
- 2g (⅓ tsp) salt
- About 350g (12½ oz) sirloin steak, trimmed and diced. You’ll need 80g (2¾ oz) per person
- Chopped chives and parsley
- 4 eggs
For the lemon vinaigrette
- 75 ml (2½ fl oz) lemon juice
- 25 ml (¾ fl oz) white wine vinegar
- A pinch of lemon zest
- 15 g (½ oz) sugar
- 6 g (1/5oz) Dijon mustard
- 200 ml (6¾ fl oz) vegetable oil
- 100 ml (3⅓ fl oz) olive oil
- 2 g (⅓ tsp) salt
- White pepper
- Sear the beef on top of some oiled paper.
- Remove once the meat is golden brown and chill.
- Trim off all the seared beef, and cut into 10cm long pieces. Wrap and freeze.
- When semi-frozen, cut into 1cm-thick slices and then dice into 1cm-square pieces.
- Weigh out 80g (2¾ oz) and seal in plastic cling wrap bags. It‘s important to keep it for no more than one day before eating.
- When you come to make the beef tartare, mix the sauce ingredients together and use only enough sauce to bind the meat so it holds its shape. Add around 1 tsp of chives and parsley per tartare. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Take the eggs out of their shells carefully and remove all the white from the egg yolk. Soft steam them at 65°C (150°F) for 45 minutes.
- Serve with toasted juniper powder and some salt.
- Place the beef tartare in a large, flat, round ring, smoothing over the top so it‘s nice and flat.
- Toss some rocket salad with the lemon vinaigrette and place on the side of the plate.
- Place the slow-cooked egg on top of the beef. Serve with two pieces of sour dough toast.
Recipe courtesy of Tom Aikens
Enjoy Taste of France? Well you’re in luck as Taste of France Issue Five is out of the oven!
- Figs in red wine jelly and Stilton ice cream
- Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts
- Marseille Street Food Festival 2023
- Mussels, corn and caviar by Fanny Rey
- Paris gastronomy exhibition runs until July
In the last months, I’ve constantly found recipes here that have nothing to do with the original well-known versions. And now again, this time for a “Steak tartare by Tom Aikens”. Who “Tom Aikens” is, we’ll probably (hopefully) never know, but as a long-term gastronomic and culinary consultant in hotels in Europe and South Africa with initial management training at the Savoy Hotel, London to include a 2-year cooking “experience” in the Grill Kitchen with Chef Trompetto, I can assure you that “Steak Tatare,” has never, anywhere, ever been served with cooked meat.
If you don’t even know that, then you shouldn’t be producing a newsletter, making idiots out of persons who don’t know better and believe what you, obviously incompetent, write.
Good afternoon Lionel, thank you for your comment. Tom Aikens is a British Michelin-star chef who has had experience working in France and the UK. You can find out more about him here.
While we understand where you’re coming from, it’s worth noting that harmful bacterias such as E.Coli live on the surface of uncooked meat. Therefore it is advised that chefs use the “sear and shave” technique (please refer to :Food Standards Agency in the UK section 38) in order to prevent patrons from getting food poisoning in their establishments.
We hope you have a lovely day ahead.