Steak tartare, a Bastille Day tribute

by Forager on July 14, 2010

The Co-pilot travels more than anyone I know. He travels internationally a few times a year for business, and another few times for pleasure. Not to mention all the domestic travelling he does. Despite all that, he seems to have a never ending supply of annual leave remaining and I have long suspected there is a well-developed part of his brain dedicated to plotting annual leave loopholes and wrangling frequent flyer point deals. His frequent absences used to really affect me, but over time, I’ve gotten used to it and found coping mechanisms. One scheme I came up with involved imposing a time limit on his days away. Namely, for every day over 2 weeks that he is away from home he forfeits 500 frequent flyer points to me. And it seems to be a good incentive plan as he hasn’t forfeited any points. Yet.

But, still he is often away and I find myself cooking for one. In these situations, elaborate effort didn’t ever seem worthwhile when there isn’t someone to enjoy your meal with. However now, more often than not, I’m using these occasions to indulge in the foods that I like: the ingredients or dishes that I adore but the Co-pilot loathes; the ingredients that I choose to eat alone or secretly in dark corners.

One dish that falls in this category is steak tartare. A few weeks ago, the Co-pilot and I were watching Rick Stein’s French Odyssey and dreaming of meandering summer holidays in the French countryside. We watched him re-create a number of mouth watering classic French dishes – but the one that captivated me and instantly had me plotting and planning for the next Co-pilot vacation cooking opportunity was the steak tartare.

Although widely associated with French cuisine, whether steak tartare is French in origin is debatable. The popular story that the dish was named after the Tartars, a nomadic Turkic peoples that were said to ride with raw meat under their saddles to tenderise the meat. Wiki suggests that the name is actually a nod to the humble tartar sauce, and versions of the dish served in France in the early 20th century, were called steak à l’Americaine and served with a dollop of tartar sauce on the side.

Origins aside, we watched as Rick Stein’s deft hands made light work of the ingredients and served up a rustic pile of glistening seasoned raw beef topped with a plump, taut egg yolk. It wasn’t long before the Co-pilot was away for business again, and I seized the opportunity to re-create the dish at home. The main ingredient in this dish is, not surprisingly, beef. And similarly obvious is the need for the use of excellent quality, tender beef in this dish. I certainly wasn’t prepared to take any chances when I’m about to consume a large amount of raw beef so, after work, I made a beeline to the David Jones Foodhall, an upmarket fresh and gourmet food providore in the Sydney CBD. There I sought the advice of the butcher and without hesitation he tipped his head to the Black Angus beef eye fillet. He promised it would deliver the tenderest beef, perfect for a tartare – and I’d bloody well hope so at $55AUD per kg!

The recipe I used to create the dish is a combination of the recipe Rick Stein used on his show, French Odyssey, and a recipe from Damien Pignolet, chef and owner of Bistro Moncur, because I loved the sound of adding anchovies for extra bite.

Steak tartare for one

Steak tartare for one

Steak Tartare

(Adapted from Rick Stein’s and Damien Pignolet’s recipes).

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 260g Southern Highland Black Angus aged beef eye fillet
  • 4 tbsp cornichons, finely chopped
  • 4 heaped tbsp French shallots, finely diced
  • 4 tsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 4 heaped tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 shakes of Tabasco sauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • baguette to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, slice the baguette into thin rounds, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake for about 5 minutes until golden. Set aside these crostinis until needed.
  2. Keep the beef cold until ready to use and as you’re serving this raw, for hygiene reasons ensure you start with well washed hands or even gloves, use a very clean knife and chopping surface. Then using a sharp knife trim any fat or sinew off the eye fillet.
  3. Finely mince the beef using the knife. This is more labour intensive than putting the beef through a food processor but it provides the correct – almost rustic texture as you’re not after a paste.
  4. Combine all the chopped and diced ingredients, then the seasoning. The amounts are to taste but I’ve provided the amounts I ended up using (I found I needed more flavour than initially thought). Add the ingredients to the beef, then add in enough olive oil to moisten and bind the mixture together and mix thoroughly.
  5. Spoon half of the mixture onto a plate and shape into a heaped flat mound.
  6. Make a slight well in the top of the mound, drop the egg yolk in and serve immediately with a few crostini and preferably a glass of red wine.


Steak tartare mix

Mixing up all the ingredients for steak tartare

Sunny plump yolk

Sunny plump yolk waiting to be punctured

It was certainly an impressive dish. And I have to be honest, I was just a little impressed with myself for deciding to make this dish for one. I broke the taut egg yolk and watched the viscous river of gold course its way down to the plate and then mixed the egg yolk through and took a bite.

River of gold

River of viscous gold

It was good. The flavour of the aged beef sang. I was instantly thankful I’d spent the extra dollars on the quality cut. The other flavours acted to enhance but not mask the flavour of the beef. The tender, buttery texture of the minced beef marries perfectly with the rich, silky egg yolk; the crunchiness of the cornichons and shallots provides a stark contrast; their flavour combined with the salty vinegary capers to add a dimension of savoury piquancy and the parsley provides that subtle lift of herby freshness. I dug in with gusto. About halfway through I stopped and took stock of the scene. I am sitting at home, alone, and before me sits a large mound of raw meat,  a raw egg and a healthy glass of red wine.

When did I develop so much testosterone?

At that point, the Co-pilot rang and I excitedly boasted about my brave “cooking” feat. The subdued tone on the other end suggested the Co-pilot was less than impressed. In fact, he frankly told me he found it weird and disturbing that I was eating a pile of raw meat on my own. At that point, I had to agree. I was weird and disturbed.

Compared to all the dishes I’ve cooked on my own, for my own enjoyment – this is one I think I’ve mentally re-categorised as a dish that requires the company of another. If only to convince yourself you’re not weird and disturbed. Luckily there were many other mouth watering French dishes I spied on Rick Stein’s show so the next opportunity to cook for one will no doubt involve more single person-friendly options. Perhaps I’ll skin some eels and fry them in garlic butter and parsley. Or perhaps snails in the traditional garlic butter or more inspired bolognaise sauce… Or perhaps I’ll retreat to the less confronting, more comforting slow-cook soups, casseroles and cassoulets and dream about long, leisurely holidays in Paris and the idyllic French countryside whilst it stews and wiles the night away.

*sigh* Oh one day I’ll visit you. I promise.

Happy Bastille Day to all the French! I wish I was in France now celebrating the day with you.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jacq July 15, 2010 at 12:19 am

Haha I don’t think you’re weird and disturbed at all! In fact I admire that you put the effort in to cook a nice meal for yourself. Most of the time I’m far too lazy to cook for one. Love the oozing egg yolk :)
Jacq recently posted..Tastevin Bistro and Wine Bar- DarlinghurstMy Profile

2 Helen (grabyourfork) July 15, 2010 at 1:30 am

I love steak tartare but have yet to attempt my own. Taking the time to source quality ingredients and appreciate it at its best is not weird or disturbed at all. I think the co-pilot was just jealous he wasn’t there to have some himself!
Helen (grabyourfork) recently posted..Becasse- SydneyMy Profile

3 Dave B July 15, 2010 at 2:10 am

I’m with co-pilot on this one… freak! 😉

4 Maria July 15, 2010 at 4:52 am

I have always wanted to make this! Thanks for the recipe, I think I’ll have to give this a go :)
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5 Richard Elliot July 15, 2010 at 7:10 am

Looks wonderful. I had my first steak tartare in ages in Melbourne recently and it was beautiful.

One of my French friends insists that you should serve the steak and all the condiments separately so that you can mix it yourself to your own tastes. I’ve never actually seen this in a restaurant though!
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6 john@heneedsfood July 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

I’ve only ever had steak tartare once, I think. Yours looks wonderful! I loved watching Rick Stein as well, that’ll be me on the Midi Canal in two months! Just not on Ricks $10,000/ night boat
john@heneedsfood recently posted..Croatian potato soup – krompir juhaMy Profile

7 Gourmantic July 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I’ve just realised I’ve never ordered steak tartare. I’m not averse to eating it, just one of those things that gets bypassed. Well done on your creation. And I like the photo with the egg!
Gourmantic recently posted..Bastille Day Celebration Dinner in SydneyMy Profile

8 penny aka jeroxie July 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I have steak tartare countless times outside but never made it myself. should give it a go.
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9 Sara (Belly Rumbles) July 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I do like that you added the anchovies. Looks great and it really is worth splurging with a very good piece of meat when it is the star of the dish.

10 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella July 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Absolutely, only the freshest for this! We’ve been eating quite a lot of beer tartare lately-it’s such an amazingly good dish :)
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11 OohLookBel July 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I don’t think you’re weird at all. A bit of a risk-taker, certainly (there’s no way I’d eat raw meat/egg yolk at home). Though with all the frequent flyer points you’ve accumulated, you should have booked that trip to Paris… :)
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12 mademoiselle délicieuse July 16, 2010 at 1:36 am

I’ve yet to try steak tartare, mostly due to my perceived texture of it. One day, I think, perhaps just a bite and most probably pilfered from my husband. It’ll be some time yet before I venture into sole, raw meat consumption!

13 Bonnibella July 16, 2010 at 5:58 am

I find it river of egg yolk sexy and desirable. I have to say I can understand the frequent absent due to working, Oz is on-call which means he leaves at all hours of the day. I love the addition of anchovies.
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14 Betty @ The Hungry Girl July 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Oh, I wish I was in France too! *le sigh* I think this is great and even better that you went to the effort to making it for yourself! I’ve never tried steak tartare before, but it looks so interesting, I might have to make it. But I’ll also probably have to make it when I’m alone because I’m afraid people may judge. lol!
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15 Co-Pilot's Dad July 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I’m enjoying your blog more and more as you are obviously too!

16 Anh July 18, 2010 at 12:35 pm

One of my fav dishes ever!! Great recipe :)

17 Adrian @ Food Rehab July 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Happy belated Bastille Day! …River of viscous gold…LMAO
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18 angie July 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Have had a taste of steak tartare only once, the bf ordered it and we totally loved it however his body thought otherwise and punished him for eating raw ingredients. Don’t know if I’ll ever make this myself after that experience.

I would probably keep myself busy cooking too if he ever did have to go away for extended amounts of time, I’d probably end up eating excessively to make up for all the extra food cooked.
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19 Conor @ HoldtheBeef July 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I’m not ENTIRELY sure I’d eat this even if I ate beef, but I’m keen to give the roo tartare a try after just reading your gamey post. Do I have to have it with raw egg though? And can I eat it with other people? 😉
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20 Maria@TheGourmetChallenge July 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I dont think its weird at all that you made an ate steak tartar on your on. In fact, from a pricing point of view it was better to eat on your own! Great little recipe. I’ve never been brace enough to make steak tartar at home, but eaten it quite a bit out. To be honest, it would actually be extremely stress free to make at home….no cooking involved!
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21 Oggie Bad July 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Besides the egg on top, this is quite an un-expected meal for you lady. I’m loving your imagination and the fact that you’re inspired by the French (me too is loving everything French atm). As to your execution , one word: Amazeballs!

22 SK July 26, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Don’t mind steak tartare but afraid to make it at home.
You’d get really sick if something isn’t fresh.
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23 Forager July 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Hey Jacq – Thanks Jacq. Makes me feel that tad bit more normal and accepted. Well daring is the norm amongst foodbloggers right?

Hey Helen – yes, it’s a bit unusual to make it at home – although the support helps. I feel more “normal” already!

Hey DaveB – Yes. Fair. You’re point being? :)

Hey Maria – It was so easy – other than the beef you probably have all the ingredients at home now.

Hey Richard – I saw that in a few recipes. I definitely had extra ingredients on the side to ensure I got the flavours to my liking, but maybe restaurants don’t do it because the presentation isn’t as attractive?

Hey John – You’re kidding. $10,000 a day? Woah!!! I am so looking forward to your French canal trip posts too now!

Hey Gourmantic – It’s pretty full on having it all to yourself for the first time – perhaps try a spoonful of someone else’s first to suss it out?

Hey Penny – you should! The more people that do the less weird I’ll be.

Hey Sara – absolutely, I wasn’t skimping on it when it was raw too. Quality all the way!

Hey Lorraine – For sure – there are too many scary factors to consider with raw AND poor meat! We’re not Man vs Wild!

Hey OohLookBel – I like the way you think lady!

Hey mademoiselle delicieuse – Definitely the way to try it.. slowly slowly, pilfered from the husband. I bet you’ll like it. A good steak tartare is so moreish.

Hey Bonnibella – Ha.. funnily enough he is away again right now. Working widows we are!

Hey Betty – *le sigh*. Gold.

Hey Co-pilot’s dad! Thanks! :)

Hey Anh – so good and so easy. Only the possible stigmas associated with it stop us from eating it more often I think.

Hey Adrian – Very sexy, that oozing river of yolk.

Hey Angie – Could’ve been the raw meat, handfling, or as they’re often really rich – maybe that?

Hey Conor – No, to be sufficiently weird, you should have the raw yolk and definitely eat it alone, in a dark corner..

Hey Maria – Absolutely, it really makes the perfect quick midweek meal. Just sounds both decadent and bizarre at the same time. But that’s just cultural norms.

Hey Oggiebad – Amazeballs! Missing you pretty lady!

Hey SK – Oh for sure. Somehow I have so much trust in restaurants but doubt myself even when I know the freshness and source of each ingredient.

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