Steak tartare is a meat dish made from raw ground meat (beef or horsemeat). It is usually served with onions, capers, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings, often presented to the diner separately, to be added to taste. It is often served with a raw egg yolk, and often on rye bread.
The name tartare is sometimes generalized to other raw meat or fish dishes.
A less-common version in France is tartare aller-retour, a mound of mostly raw ground meat that is lightly seared on one side.
The name is a shortening of the original "à la tartare" or "served with tartar sauce", a dish popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The modern version of steak tartare with raw egg was first served in French restaurants early in the 20th century. What is now generally known as "steak tartare" was then called steack à l'Americaine. Steak tartare was a variation on that dish; the 1921 edition of Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire defines it as steack à l'Americaine made without egg yolk, served with tartar sauce on the side.
Over time, the distinction between steack à l'Americaine and its variant disappeared. The 1938 edition of Larousse Gastronomique describes steak tartare as raw ground beef served with a raw egg yolk, without any mention of tartar sauce.
Formerly, it was called "Tartar steak".
Although the word 'tartare' presumably refers to the Tatar people of Central Asia, and there are many stories connecting steak tartare with them, steak tartare is not related to Tatar cuisine.
"À la tartare" or simply "tartare" still means "served with tartar sauce" for some dishes, mostly fried fish.
The name 'tartare' is now sometimes applied to other meats or fish, such as tuna tartare, introduced in 1975 by the restaurant Le Duc in Paris.
Health concerns have reduced the popularity of this meat dish in some parts of the world because of the danger of contamination by bacteria and parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii and Taenia saginata.
When basic hygienic rules are followed and fresh meat is used, the risk of bacterial infection is low. Even when these provisions are met, it is nonetheless not recommended for people who have a weakened immune system or suffer from a chronic illness, as these individuals are at a greater risk of infection from E. coli and/or Salmonella.
Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that may be found in raw or undercooked meat. Cultural differences in raw meat consumption are thought to be a cause of regional variation in the prevalence of toxoplasma infection (ranging from around 55% in France down to 10% in the United Kingdom). Due to the risk of congenital toxoplasmosis in the fetus, pregnant women are advised not to eat raw meat. Latent toxoplasmosis in adults, though not as harmful as congenital toxoplasmosis, has been associated with psychological effects and lower IQ in some studies.
Steak tartare is found in many European cuisines.
The Belgian version, filet américain (préparé), is generally made with mayonnaise and seasoned with capers and fresh herbs. It was formerly made of horse meat. It is usually served with french fries.
In the Czech republic, steak tartare (tatarský biftek) is found in most restaurants. The meat is ground lean sirloin and has a raw egg yolk in a dimple in the middle. The meat can be premixed with herbs and spices, but usually the customer is given spices and condiments to add to taste. Steak tartare is typically served with fried bread (topinka) and raw garlic cloves for rubbing on the toast.
A variant of steak tartare is also present in Danish smørrebrød, where it is served on rugbrød (rye bread) with assorted toppings. In Sweden, steak tartare, råbiff, is usually served with raw egg yolk, raw onions, diced pickled beetroot and capers. In Finland, tartarpihvi is served with raw egg yolk, raw onions, pickled and salted cucumbers and capers. Variations of the dish include dressing with buttermilk sauce and salmon roe, for example, as the dish is getting quite popular nowadays in the Nordics, where meat hygiene is very high. The (European) Russian version can include pickled and salted mushrooms and toasted white bread.
In Wisconsin, it is quite popular among the descendants of German immigrants, using raw ground sirloin, rye bread as in Germany, pepper, onions, and an egg. It is popularly known as the "cannibal sandwich" among many Wisconsin residents.
Chilean cuisine features a dish of prepared raw beef called crudos.
In southern Brazil, influenced by German immigrants, it is known as Hackepeter or Carne de Onça in Curitiba where this dish is very common and served covered with chives.
Ethiopians have long eaten a dish of raw, minced beef called kitfo.
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