Rare steak was recently the topic of lively conversation with some fellow food bloggers. A few in our group expressed their love for not just rare steak but totally raw meat. One blogger said she used to sneak nibbles of uncooked ground beef from the fridge when she was a kid.
This conversation got me thinking about eating raw animal protein. I love uncooked seafood, especially scallops, oysters, and various types of sashimi. Raw fish has a cleaner, more subtle flavor and a delicate texture that I enjoy.
But I’ve only eaten raw beef a handful of times and I can’t say I was totally sold. However, I’m a strong advocate of trying unfamiliar foods multiple times before writing them off. Sometimes it’s just the idea of a food that turns us off more than the actual taste.
I decided to take the bull by the horns and make steak tartare at home. Although tartare is commonly known as a European dish, Koreans also have a traditional preparation. Korean tartare is seasoned with all the usual suspects: garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar. It's topped with pine nuts and served with julienned Asian pear.
To my surprise, I loved the finished dish. The raw beef was similar to raw fish in that it had a more subtle flavor than its cooked counterpart. The seasonings gave the dish a sophisticated feel – meaning it didn’t feel like a pile of chopped meat on a plate.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, approached the food with extreme skepticism and was appalled by the large forkfuls of tartare I was eating. He took a couple tiny bites and called it quits. I was proud of him for being so open to trying something new. Raw beef can be intimidating but with an open mind and safe preparation it can certainly be a delicious addition to your food repertoire.
NOTE: You should take caution when eating raw meat since it could carry e.coli, among other surface bacteria. Be sure to purchase grass-fed or organic meat from a reputable source. Harmful bacteria are often spread because of mass food production and factory farming, so whenever possible buy local. Here are some tips on eating raw meat safely.
Korean Steak Tartar (Yukhoe)
- 1 large Asian Pear
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 10 ounces lean beef (I used top round roast)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (you can also use balsamic vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
Put 2 tablespoons of sugar and about 4 cups of water in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Peel the Asian pear and julienne. Place the pear in the sugar water. This will prevent the pear from browning once it's removed from the water.
Slice the beef into very thin strips (1 inch X 1/8 inch). In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, chopped garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, black vinegar, and pepper. Add chopped beef to the sauce and mix well.
Drain the Asian pear. Serve the steak tartare over a bed of pear. Garnish with pine nuts. I had some baby spinach in the fridge, so I added a few leaves for garnish as well. Enjoy!