Steak tartare is a staple of higher-end French bistros. Made from high-quality chopped or ground raw beef, usually tossed with shallots, capers, cornichons, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and raw egg yolk among other ingredients, and served with crusty bread or toast, it’s a textural marvel and tangy umami bomb.
Lately the dish has been taken outside of its usual comfort zone and given cultural treatment that suits chefs’ own tastes, experiences and cultural heritage.
France isn’t the only country that has traditionally appreciated chopped raw beef. The Thai-Lao dish laab — a spicy and herbaceous mixture of chopped meat with ground, toasted rice — has a raw version called laab leuad (“blood laab”] made with beef moistened with beef blood, and Lebanese kibbeh — spiced meat with onions and cooked grain — has an uncooked version called kibbeh nayyeh.
The latter dish is the inspiration for the beef tartare at Ilili in Washington, D.C., where chef and owner Philippe Massoud goes the extra mile and serves it in roasted bone marrow.
Chef Sol Han uses Korean flavors, plus a little Calabrian chile, for his beef tartare at LittleMäd in New York City, where he combines high-fat American wagyu with a lean cut of Black Angus.
Buffalo, the sauce for chicken wings, not the animal, is the influence for the beef tartare at The Parlour Room, also in New York, where it’s mixed with blue cheese and celery.
The New Orleans custom of pairing beef and oysters is the inspiration for the tartare at The Madrigal, which opened in San Francisco in December, while back in New York the traditional French tartare is beefed up with truffle aïoli and caviar and served as a $42 sandwich at Pebble Bar.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]