Steak tartare

Cooking is an act of transformation greater than anything politicians can dish up. But sometimes raw food has its own special magic. Sushi, salads, even mayonnaise is eaten raw. Well, it’s about time braai mechanics douse their smokey fires and get into raw meat and eggs, and this is the way to do it…

First, wash your hands. Since there is no heat to kill bacteria on the outside of these food items, be vigilant about kitchen hygiene, especially in terms of work surfaces and cutting boards. We begin with the fillet steak. Do not be tempted to make this dish with mince. Instead, cut the fillet into slices 5mm thick across the grain of the meat. Then cut each slice into small cubes. While this may seem to be excessively labour intensive, note that little cubes taste and look a whole lot better than tubular extrusions.

Place the diced fillet in a bowl and cover with clingwrap.

Rinse the pickled cucumbers to remove excess salt. Shake off the water or dry with paper towel, then coarsely chop them. Store under cover. Rinse the olives and coarsely chop them after removing and discarding the pips. Rinse the capers and store them whole under cover. Peel and coarsely chop the shallot or small red onion, noting that the shallot is the better choice if available. Shallots are onions without tears, milder in flavour than the standard model.

If you are using the optional anchovy fillet, cut this up into very small sections. Anchovies are not for everyone. So if this is your first steak tartare, maybe save the anchovy idea for next time. Coarsely chop the pickled beetroot and finely chop the parsley. Combine all these ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. As for the sauce. I prefer the flavour of soya sauce but traditionalists may vote for Worcestershire sauce. Both are delicious.

Add freshly ground black pepper, noting that raw meat requires more seasoning than the cooked version. Taste. If additional salt is required, add it. Place the mixture into a bowl just big enough to contain it all, press it firmly into the bowl and invert it onto the serving plate. Now for the raw egg. Carefully separate the yolk and discard the white. Make a small dent in the top of the steak tartare and transfer the yolk inside.

Serve with buttered toast and red Tabasco if desired. Just before eating, break the yolk with a fork and combine it with the rest of the meal. 

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.