Steak Tartare

Steak tartare

So to round out the end of our look at some raw dishes, how about the classic steak tartare? So I did a little digging into the background on this dish. I had always thought it had something to do with the Tatar people of Central Asia, and how they were so fierce in battle that they didn’t take time to cook their meat, they would just travel with it under their saddles so that the meat was tenderised enough by riding that it could just be eaten raw between bouts of fighting. Apparently this is a kitchen urban legend and the dish really has nothing to do with them at all.

Now here is where it gets a little confusing. The original recipe, which was quite popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was served “à la tartare” or “with tartar sauce”, and really wasn’t anything like our modern day steak tartare. In the early 20th century, they came out with a variation on this recipe called “Steack à l’Americaine” which resembled what we are more familiar with, raw ground beef and raw egg. Over time, the distinction between the two dishes disappeared, with the name from one and the recipe from the other sticking around.

Ingredients

2 pounds trimmed beef rib-eye roast
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks
⅓ cup canola oil
6 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, drained, and minced
3 tablespoons minced parsley*
1 ¾ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
½ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
5-6 cornichons, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
french fries, for serving
mixed salad greens, for serving*
toast points, melba toast, crackers, for serving

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley and salad greens.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat.

Directions:

Place beef in the freezer to firm, about 30 minutes; this will make it easier to chop finely. Meanwhile, whisk mustard and egg yolks in a large bowl; while whisking constantly, slowly pour in oil to create a mayonnaise.

Add capers, parsley, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cornichons, and onion, and season with salt and pepper; refrigerate flavourings until ready to use.

Remove beef from freezer and cut into ¼ inch cubes. Transfer beef to bowl of flavourings and stir to combine. Keep beef mixture chilled until ready to serve.

To serve, divide beef mixture into 4 to 6 equal portions, and shape each into an oval disk, or you can get fancy and use a cookie cutter or tin to shape your tartare. Serve immediately with toast points, crackers, fries and greens.

Citrus Dill Gravlax

GravlaxSo how can you be a kosher cooking blog having a week highlighting fish, and not touch on Lox? It’s a Jewish staple! Confession time… up until a few months ago I could not stand Lox of any kind. Even the smell or thought of it turned me off completely. Now I seem obsessed with it! I don’t like it… I LOVE it! Better late than never I guess!

Now I realize that Gravlax is not Lox. Lox is cured through smoking while Gravlax is cured in a salt/acid mixture. The tastes and textures though are quite similar. That, and you can make Gravlax easily at home… Lox, not so much (I’m not counting those that have their own personal smokers at home). This dish takes a while to cure, but in truth, very little effort to make. Trust me this will be a HUGE hit at your next party and your guests will be incredibly impressed.

Ingredients:

Gravlax:
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet, skin on
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
zest of 1 orange**
zest of ½ lime**
zest of ½ lemon**
1 ½ tablespoons tequila/vodka/gin (plus more if needed)
1 cup chopped fresh dill, divided*

Sauce:
2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

To serve:
Melba toasts or toast points
capers
sliced onion
dill sprigs

* Click here to learn about cleaning dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

For Gravlax: Heat the peppercorns in a small skillet over medium-high heat until spices are fragrant and seeds jump slightly, shaking skillet frequently, about 2 minutes. Crush spices in mortar with pestle or transfer to work surface, cover with kitchen towel (not terry cloth), and crush with mallet or bottom of heavy pan. Transfer spices to small bowl. Mix in salt, sugar, and the zests of the orange, lemon and lime.

Trim the fillet so that it is uniform in size. Using small sharp knife, poke 12 small holes through skin of both pieces of salmon. Rub ⅓ of spice mixture over skin. Sprinkle ⅓ cup chopped dill in bottom of 7x7x2-inch or 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Place the salmon, skin side down, on top of the dill. Pour the alcohol over the fish. Rub the remaining spice mixture onto the top of the salmon. Then press the remaining chopped dill into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto fish. Place a small plate or smaller dish on top of the plastic, so that it makes direct contact with the wrapped fish. Place some heavy cans on plate so that the fish is weighted down. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days, checking on it once or twice a day, and basting the fish with the juices produced by the curing process. On the second day of curing, slice off a small piece and taste it. If it doesn’t taste like it’s getting there, add a little more salt and/or alcohol on the fish.

For Sauce: Whisk mustard and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in chopped dill and salt. Season with ground black pepper. (Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

To Serve: Scrape spices and dill off both sides of salmon (some spice mixture will remain). Using knife with long thin blade, thinly slice salmon diagonally at 45-degree angle from top of fillet toward skin. Cut with a back and forth sawing motion toward the narrow end to remove a thin slice of fish. Start each succeeding slice a bit farther in from the narrow end; always cut at a flat angle to keep the slices as long and thin as possible. Serve with Melba toasts, toast points, capers, dill, onions and the mustard sauce.