I know that when you eat ceviche, it's cooked by the juices you apply to the fish...and therefore safe to eat. But what about tartare? Is it cooked by any sort of topping and is it truly safe to eat?
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People all over the world eat raw meat, and we in the U.S. haven't built up the bacteria that keeps us from getting sick. So if you are going to eat it, start slowly.
Tartar is not cooked by anything, it is raw. Get the best quality you can from a source you trust. Keep it at as low a temperature as possible, and don't expose it to warm air for more than the few minutes it takes to prepare.
Cut with a clean knife on a clean surface. Put it right back into the fridge at a very low temp.
Salt and acid, if you use them in your sauce, will provide some anti-bacterial benefits, but this is not foolproof.
If you have immune problems, are older, young children don't try it.
Wish we still had the edit function! I would not use big ag beef that has been given anti-biotics and fed who knows what. I would only use organic, grass-fed from a source I completely trust.
Would you feel comfortable eating it in a restaurant then or would it depend on the reputation of the restaurant?
Most definitely depend on the reputation of the restaurant! In Ethiopia raw beef is served always in different spices. Last visit I was sitting next to an Ethiopian attorney, 7 months pregnant. She ate the raw beef. I didn't, my male colleague did because he thought if a pregnant woman could eat it so could he. He became very ill because we westerners don't have the bacteria - and she was raised on this.
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While I've been mulling over just how to ask your question, I'm so happy that SKK just jumped right in with some good info. I kind of wanted to go back to your ceviche comparison though...
Lots of people eat raw seafood--sushi and sashimi from Japan and clams and oysters on the half shell from a lot of places. If your seafood is very fresh and has no parasites, there's no reason to cook it at all. The "cooking" accomplished by the acids used in ceviche change the look and texture of fish and shellfish, but they don't do a heck of a lot to change the edibility. Just like SKK said about meat, acidity guards against bacteria, but it isn't fool-proof.
So...back to your meat question: get high-quality meat from a source that you trust in a country where your gut flora is adapted to what you'll find....and enjoy raw meat! Even raw chicken, but for that you'll have to be even more vigilent.
Greenstuff, thank you for your comprehensive answer. When I had clients in Japan one of them ate raw oysters while traveling in the US and got hepatitis. So it is really all about knowing where your food is sourced. And who is handling it.