Steak Tartare

February 19, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

There are quite a few rumors about the origins of steak tartare, the most popular being that the recipe descended from the Mongols of Medieval times, who the Romans called “Tartars,” and who, because they were nomadic and had no refrigeration, ate all of their meat raw. The actual reason we call this dish of minced raw beef “tartare” is, unfortunately, much less interesting. Tartare was first written about in early 19th-century France, and it’s simply a shortening of “steak à la tartare” -- a.k.a. steak with tartar sauce. Originally, the dish was always served with tartare sauce -- which consisted of vinegar and hard-boiled eggs -- but over time, it’s taken on many forms. The egg and the vinegar have remained, as has the raw minced beef, but these days steak tartare usually includes capers and onions as well. Sometimes you can even find Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pickles, or herbs added into the mix. —Cara Nicoletti

What You'll Need
  • 8 to 10 ounces top round steak, trimmed of all fat and sinew
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, destemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
  1. Freeze beef for 40 minutes (this makes cutting easier and also keeps the meat from heating up while you’re chopping).
  2. Using a very sharp knife, cut beef into 1/8 inch-thick slices, then julienne those slices and then mince them into small squares. Repeat until the entire block of meat is cut into tiny bits -- work quickly! You don’t want the meat to get warm. Place the meat in the refrigerator while you fry the capers.
  3. Once your capers are rinsed and thoroughly dried, heat about 1 inch of oil in a medium skillet until it’s at 350° F. Add capers and cook, tossing occasionally, for about 2 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Transfer them to a paper towel to drain and cool.
  4. Whisk olive oil, egg yolk, parsley, shallots, and anchovy paste together in a small bowl. Season dressing to taste with vinegar and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the minced steak -- starting with about half -- and gently toss until it’s mixed throughout. (You may not need to use all of the dressing.)
  5. When you’re ready to eat, toss in the fried capers and taste for seasoning (the capers and anchovies are both salty, so you probably won’t need more salt). Serve with bread or crackers and good Dijon mustard.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Monika Gorczyca
    Monika Gorczyca
  • Marc Jacobs
    Marc Jacobs
  • Cara Nicoletti
    Cara Nicoletti
  • kaleandsalt
Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Cara started working in restaurants when she moved to New York in 2004, and was a baker and pastry chef for several years before following in her grandfather and great-grandfathers' footsteps and becoming a butcher. She is the writer behind the literary recipe blog,, and author of Voracious, which will be published by Little, Brown in 2015. She is currently a whole-animal butcher and sausage-making teacher at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg.

6 Reviews

kaleandsalt October 30, 2015
This was delicious! A gorgeous piece of meat from the Meat Hook made this a tasty, quick, and economical dinner for two. A great and accessible recipe. I served it with slices of toasted baguette, an arugula salad, and roasted bone marrow.
A. April 2, 2015
Monika, please define "trusted butcher," and how you can know that he/she ground, but not chopped, the filet mignon. And is there something special about filet mignon that makes it immune to e-coli & other nasty germs in the meat? And how exactly does ground meat protect against pathogens, while chopped meat is dangerous? Am still not convinced that doing this at home is safe. Especially since the author of this article (supposedly a butcher) hasn't responded on the various safety concerns.
Cara N. April 2, 2015
Sorry I didn't respond, I don't always get these emails. What I know is that bacteria sits on the outside of the meat, which is why ground beef tends to have higher instances of e.coli--the bacteria from the outside of the muscle gets mixed in with the interior muscle. If you use a whole muscle that has been trimmed on the outside and then mince it with a clean knife (and clean hands) the risk of e.coli is very low. I'm guessing what Monika means about having a trusted butcher is having one whom you can ask how fresh the meat is, where it came from, how it was raised, etc. rather than buying a packaged cut of beef from a market that you have no information on. If you have a butcher you trust, you can ask them to mince it for you right then and there. I would recommend minced over ground, since you don't know what has gone into a shop's grinder (raw pork, chicken, etc), and they are much harder to sanitize than a knife. The high acidity of the condiments you add to tartare (vinegar, capers) also help to kill bacteria.

Last time I checked butchers aren't doctors (and I'm not entirely sure why you felt the need to question my profession based on the fact that I didn't answer as quickly as you would have liked) so this is the best answer I can give you for why people have been eating steak tartare for centuries without getting sick every single time. We take risks with many of the foods we eat, if you don't feel comfortable taking this particular risk, that's your choice.
Monika G. April 2, 2015
You have to have trusted butcher, who could grind (not chop) your fillet mignon at the site. I don't trust any other meat, especially the one bought outside of the butcher store. My mother was only adding egg yolk and salt and pepper, serving it with chopped onion, pickles and pickled mushrooms on the side. Yum...
A. March 3, 2015
I always heard the same thing as Marc, that it wasn't safe to just chop it up and eat it. I know you say to get the meat from a "safe" source (presumably one that won't sell you e-coli contaminated meat), but how do you know for sure? I absolutely love steak tartare, but am too chicken to try it at home.

Also, one inch of oil for 1/4 cup of capers? That seems like overkill to me. Is there a good reason?
Marc J. February 28, 2015
I'm confused. I thought it was required to pasteurize the exterior of the cut by searing to ensure proper food safety. Once seared, the cooked exterior is trimmed off and the trimmed interior is used to prepare tartare...