Asian Steak Tartare

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(Blogger’s note: you can check out additional coverage of this recipe at The Bitten Word and Bon Appetit)

Last week one of my favorite food blogs, The Bitten Word, launched their second annual Cover to Cover 2013 Challenge. It’s a front to back cook-through of an entire magazine, and this year they chose Bon Appétit’s September restaurant edition. Almost 500 people (including myself!) are collaborating to put together 47 recipes which will start going up sometime next week.

Of course I signed up for something challenging, and when assignments came down I received this Steak Tartare recipe! I was particularly excited because not only had I never made a Tartare before, I’d never even tried one before. Challenge Accepted!

As you can see from the pictures, it turned out excellently. I’ll get into how it tasted in a moment, but now that I’ve made this recipe I have a foodie confession to make:

I can’t do raw meat.

I got about halfway through the dish before I simply couldn’t eat any more. Don’t get me wrong – it tasted fantastic – there’s just something about the sheer rawness of it that I couldn’t take. But that’s my problem; you need to know about this Tartare!

The beauty of this dish is the clarity of flavor that each component brings. In every bite you can taste the Korean-spiced aioli, the sweet and tangy Asian pear, the robust soy dressing, the refreshingly crispy watercress, and – of course – the steak.

I used an organic, grass feed, top sirloin steak from local Seattle butchery Rain Shadow Meats, and it really made a huge difference in the dish. The flavor was full and complex, similar to cooked steak but more rich and meaty. The biggest difference was in the texture though; it was chewy yet smooth and tender.

For those who are faint of stomach like myself, you can actually toss this whole dish – minus the watercress – into a wok and stir fry it for a few minutes and create a whole new delicious dish. You loose the intricacy of different flavors working together, but everything melds together to create a wonderfully rich, tangy, umami sensation that’s delightful in its own right. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this recipe!

Asian Steak Tartare

Recipe from Bon Appétit

Asian Steak Tartare

Pickled Asian Pear

  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 Asian pear, unpeeled, cut into ¼” cubes

Spicy Aioli

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. gochugaru
  • ½ tsp. Chinese hot mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil

Soy Dressing

  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • ⅓ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder, preferably Chinese hot
  • 1 tsp. grated peeled ginger
  • 1 tsp. gochugaru (coarse Korean red pepper paste)

Watercrest Salad and Tartare

  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 1 lb. trimmed beef steak (organic, high quality recommended)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch watercress, tough stems trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and ½ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mustard seeds are soft, 25–35 minutes.
  2. Let cool the mixture cool, then mix in the diced Asian pear. Let it sit at least 30 minutes, and up to a full day before serving.IMG_2217
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vinegar, gochugaru, mustard and a pinch of salt. As you whisk, slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl, starting with just a drop at a time. Once all the oil is in the aioli should be a thickened and pale orange in color. In another bowl, whisk together the  garlic, soy sauce, sugar, mustard powder, ginger, and gochugaru for the soy dressing.
  4. Cut the steak into 1/4 inch cubes, trimming away any excess fat or connective tissue as you go. When done, place into a medium-sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve.IMG_2212
  5. Heat a skillet to medium and add the pine nuts. Toast for 5-8 minutes or until the nuts begin to get slightly browned. Toss the watercress with the vegetable oil and sherry vinegar and set aside.
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  6. Drain the Asian pear from the pickling liquid and add the steak bowl along with the pine nuts, scallions, and soy dressing. To serve, drizzle a generous portion of aioli over the plate, followed by the steak tartare and finish with the watercress salad.
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