When people think of “tartare”, I bet the first three things most people think of are 1.) expensive, 2.) gourmet, and 3.) raw. For me, it’s 1.) expensive, 2.) delicious, and 3.) special. I say special because usually when I eat tartare it’s either on vacation or on a nice date night. Which brings me to my first point; usually it’s expensive. But to my pleasant surprise making it at home is not only easy, but also healthy, cheaper, and super impressive!
I sincerely hope that you have been able to enjoy a good tuna or steak tartare at some point in your life. To some people it’s weird to eat raw tuna, and even more so raw steak, but I absolutely love it! If you like ahi tuna or sushi then you will certainly like tuna tartare, but I can understand if steak tartare is a more acquired taste for some.
I think the first time I tried steak tartare I was overseas in Barcelona. Actually I’m sure of it, because I only cheat and eat meat when I’m abroad… *cough cough*. But seriously though, if you haven’t had steak tartare before then the best time to try it for the first time would be Europe, because their meat is handled so much better and is generally cleaner. The key to eating tartare is a good, clean meat. This means that you probably shouldn’t run out to your local bodega and get whatever ground beef they have sitting around. If you’re making a tuna or salmon tartare that means get sushi-grade fish, which is super frozen immediately after being caught which eliminates the opportunity for bacteria to grow. And if you’re making a beef tartare get good, fresh beef from your local butcher, no exceptions!
Usually tartare is served as an appetizer which some sort of crunchy bread as a vehicle. It certainly can be served as an entree, but you run the risk of the texture becoming unappetizing after a while. I would recommend serving it split between a few people as a first course, because everything tastes better in moderation!
The reason why I decided to make some tuna tartare tonight was because, I’ll admit, I cracked and subscribed to one of those Try the World boxes. You’ve seen the ads, right? Basically it’s the company that will send you a box every two months containing food merchandise from another country. I tried to resist as long as I could but eventually I caved, and I signed up and they sent me a free Paris box as my first box. Let me just say, CUUUTEEEE. I was immediately pleased with myself for making the purchase and kicking myself for not doing it sooner (no, they’re not paying me to say this). In my Paris box I got: a jar of French mustard, marmalade, a French herb blend, fleur de sel, tea, French cookies, and caramels! They also include instructions on how to create uniquely “French” experiences, like songs to play, how to use to ingredients, etc. AND a recipe on the back! A recipe for, you guessed it, steak tartare! Here’s the link to their website.
Of course since I’m pescetarian I looked at the recipe and decided it would be equally good using tuna instead of steak. So after the go-ahead from Bae I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up some sushi-grade tuna, and bought a half-pound for $18 bucks which is considerably cheaper than what you’d pay at a restaurant. Let me say, it turned out perfectly! Not to brag or anything, but it was certainly restaurant quality. There was the perfect balance of flavors; the mustard added some tang, the capers had some briny saltiness, the ketchup added a touch of sweetness, and the hot sauce added a teensy bit of heat. The onion added crunch and much-needed flavor, and the parsley freshened the whole thing up. I served it on top of mashed avocado, which is a traditional pairing for tuna tartare. I would certainly recommend whipping this up the next time you’re having a dinner party or a romantic date night indoors, and impress everybody with your worldliness and culture!
Tuna Tartare (serves 4-6)*
- .5 lb sushi-grade tuna, chopped
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tsp quality dijon mustard
- 1 tsp French parsley, onion, and garlic blend (or similar)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
- 2 egg yolks
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 4 dashes hot sauce
- 1 avocado, diced (optional)
- Crostinis for serving
In a medium bowl mix the mustard, oil, yolks, lemon juice, and herbs until completely combined. Fold in the tuna, parsley, onion, capers, ketchup, hot sauce. Mix until combined and refrigerate until ready to plate.
In a small bowl, put the chunks of avocado and season with salt and pepper. Lightly mash the avocado with a fork.
Using a soufflé dish or large ramekin, add a portion size of the tuna mixture to the bottom of the ramekin. Lightly press the mixture to form to the bottom. Add a portion of the avocado in a layer on top of the tuna in the ramekin. Press to form an even layer. Place the serving plate top-side-down on the ramekin, then quickly turn over so the plate is right-side-up and the ramekin is upside-down. Remove ramekin gently so the tartare keeps its form. Sprinkle salt on top and serve with toasted bread or crostinis.
*Recipe adapted from Try the World