Steak tartare is undoubtedly one of the gourmet dishes of modern French cuisine. This refined dish was apparently invented in the 12th century by Tatar soldiers. The latter placed cuts of raw meat underneath their horse saddles, and the meat grew soft from their weight and the motion of the road. In the evening they would chop up the meat finely and eat it uncooked. The Tatars introduced this dish to the Russians, who named it after them and divulged the secret of tartare to the French. The French, for their part, added capers and an egg yolk, and that is how it became known to the world - properly seasoned and surprising in its refined taste.

Preparing steak tartare is easy. All it takes is a bit of courage and a hunk of quality beef. A flavorful tartare calls for either fresh beef (not frozen ) or beef that has been aged for about two weeks, preferably from a cow that was slaughtered after giving birth. Fillet and sirloin are the most suitable beef cuts for mincing.

Chopping steak tartare into tiny cubes requires patience and a good, sharp knife. Try chilling the meat in the freezer for 20 minutes beforehand to make it easier to chop. The steak can be served seasoned or with condiments and seasonings on the side.

Levantine peoples have their own version of tartare: Kibbeh Nayeh - a dish made of fine bulgur wheat and tiny cubes of fresh lamb (minced or rough ground ), delicately seasoned with olive oil and lemon. Its winning appearance and unique taste attest to its few ingredients and simple seasoning. Also in contrast to the tartare, this dish is created by briefly kneading the meat and bulgur with the seasoning ingredients. The kneading unites all the ingredients into a uniform and tender consistency.

Kibbeh Nayeh is customarily eaten on Friday nights, along with a shot glass of chilled arak and a lemon wedge. The Syrians also serve a vegetarian version, in which orange lentils and fresh tomato puree substitute for the minced fresh lamb.

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Kibbeh Nayeh Ingredients (4 servings ):

70 grams fine bulgur wheat ("grisha" )

500 grams leg of lamb, fillet of beef, or aged sirloin, cleaned of tendons and fat

4 tablespoons chopped red onion or scallions

4 tablespoons chopped parsley or nana mint

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground chili

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

4 tablespoons olive oil

 

For garnish:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Atlantic salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Dash of chili

4 lemon wedges

4 tablespoons chopped parsley or nana mint

2 teaspoons capers

Preparation:

Place fine bulgur in a medium bowl. Fill the bowl with hot tap water, stir and pour out the water. Repeat the rinsing twice more. Drain and leave the bulgur to puff up for 10 minutes.

Use a sharp knife to chop the meat into tiny cubes or rough grind it in a meat grinder. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and knead for 2 minutes. Refrigerate for 10 minutes for light pickling.

Form round flat patties measuring 10 centimeters each in diameter and place each patty on a separate plate. Drizzle olive oil over the patties and season with salt, pepper, and chili.

In the center of each one, arrange a lemon wedge, parsley, and capers. Serve immediately.

Steak tartare Ingredients (2 servings ):

300 grams fillet of beef or sirloin that has been aged for two weeks, cleaned of tendons and fat

2 flat tablespoons chopped red onion or shallots

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons capers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

For garnish:

1/2 teaspoon Atlantic salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped red onion

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 egg yolks (preferably from organic eggs )

Preparation:

Use a sharp knife to chop the beef into tiny cubes. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix lightly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes for light pickling.

Fill a ring or a small bowl greased with a little olive oil with the mixture and press down slightly to set.

Overturn onto a serving dish and sprinkle the remaining garnish ingredients on top and around.

Carefully transfer a raw yolk into half of an eggshell (rinsed and dried ) and place on top of the tartare. Serve immediately.