Steak tartare

Steak tartare or tartar steak is a dish of raw ground (minced) beef.[1][2] It is usually served with onions, capers, mushrooms, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings, often presented separately, to be added to taste. It is often served on top with a raw egg yolk. It is similar to the Levantine kibbeh nayyeh, the Turkish çiğ köfte, the Korean yukhoe and the widely known Japanese sashimi.

Steak tartare
Beef steak tartare with raw egg yolk
Main ingredientsRaw beef
VariationsTartare aller-retour
Steak tartare in the French Quarter of San Francisco

The name tartare is sometimes generalized to other raw meat or fish dishes.

In France, a less-common variant called tartare aller-retour is a mound of mostly raw ground meat lightly seared on both sides.


The Tatars and raw meat

A popular caricature of Mongol warriors—called Tatars or Tartars—has them tenderizing meat under their saddles, then eating it raw. This story was popularized by the French chronicler Jean de Joinville in the 13th century,[3] although he never actually encountered Mongols himself and used the story as a way of showing that the Tartars were uncivilized.[4] It is possible that this story was a confusion originating in the use of thin slices of meat to protect saddle sores from further rubbing.[5] This has also been considered as the origin of pastirma.[6]

Popularization of raw meat in Europe and the United States

In the late 19th century, the Hamburg steak became popular on the menus of many restaurants in the port of New York. This kind of fillet was beef minced by hand, lightly salted, and often smoked, and usually served raw in a dish along with onions and bread crumbs.[7][8] Hamburg steak gained popularity because of its ease of preparation and decreasing cost. This is evident from its detailed description in some of the most popular cookbooks of the day.[9] Documents show that this preparation style was used by 1887 in some U.S. restaurants and was also used for feeding patients in hospitals; the Hamburg steak was served raw or lightly cooked and was accompanied by a raw egg.[10]

It is not known when the first restaurant recipe for steak tartare appeared.[11] While not providing a clear name, it is possible that the dish was popularized in Paris by restaurateurs who misunderstood Jules Verne's description of "Koulbat" ("...a patty of crushed meat and eggs...") in his 1875 novel Michael Strogoff.[12]

Origins of the name

In the early 20th century, what is now generally known as "steak tartare" was called steak à l'Americaine in Europe. One variation on that dish included serving it with tartar sauce; the 1922 edition of Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire defines "Steak à la tartare" as "steak à l'Americaine" made without egg yolk, served with tartar sauce on the side. "Steak à la tartare" (literally meaning "served with tartar sauce") was later shortened to "steak tartare"[13][14] Over time, the distinction between steak à l'Americaine and its tartar-sauce 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.

It has also been called "Tartar steak" in English.[15]

"À la tartare" or simply "tartare" can still mean "served with tartar sauce" for some dishes, mostly fried fish.[16] At the same time, the name "tartare" is also sometimes applied to other dishes of raw meats or fish, such as tuna tartare, introduced in 1975 by the restaurant Le Duc in Paris.[17]

Health concerns

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[18] such as Toxoplasma gondii and Taenia saginata.


When the basic hygienic rules are followed, and fresh meat is used, the risk of bacterial infection is low.[19]


Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that may be found in raw or undercooked meat.[20] A multicentre case-control study found inadequately cooked or inadequately cured meat as the main risk factor for toxoplasma infection in all centres.[21] Due to the risk of congenital toxoplasmosis in the fetus, pregnant women are advised not to eat raw meat.[22] Latent toxoplasmosis, which lasts a lifetime, has been shown to cause poorer memory in the infected elderly.[23] Latent toxoplasmosis in adults has been supposed to cause,[24] but not proven to cause, psychological effects[25] and lower IQ[24] in some studies.

Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm) may also be acquired via ingestion of undercooked beef. The tapeworm is transmitted to humans via infectious larval cysts found in cattle. People with taeniasis may not know they have a tapeworm infection because the symptoms are usually mild or nonexistent, but it is still possible to develop cysticercosis.

Regional variations


Filet américain, or préparé, is eaten as a spread in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Malgogi-yukhoe (Korean horse meat tartare)

Steak tartare is found in many European cuisines.

The Belgian version, filet américain (also known as 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.[26]

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, steak tartare (tatarský biftek) is found in many 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 wheat rye bread in lard or oil, alternatively, it can be toasted, and raw garlic cloves for rubbing on the bread.

In Poland, steak tartare is known as tatar or befsztyk tatarski and is traditionally served as an appetizer with diced onions, dill pickles, pickled mushrooms, egg yolk, spices, and, optionally, yeast extract or coriander.

In Hungary, steak tartare is known as tatár or tatár bifsztek and is served as an appetizer with diced onions, crushed garlic, egg yolk, mustard, ketchup and spices (black pepper, sweet and hot Hungarian red pepper).

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. The (European) Ukrainian version can consist of pickled and salted mushrooms and toasted white bread.

North America

Steak tartare is served at many high-end restaurants in the United States.[27]

In Wisconsin, a variation of a steak tartare sandwich called a "cannibal sandwich" is popular among the descendants of German immigrants; it uses sirloin, rye bread, salt, pepper, and chopped onions.[28][29]

A popular street food in Mexico, Carne Tártara or Carne Apache is a dish of ground beef cured in lime juice, like a ceviche.[30]

South America

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.[31]


Ethiopians have long eaten a dish of raw, minced beef called kitfo.[32]

See also


  1. Waxman, Jonathan; Steele, Tom; Flay, Bobby; Kernick, John (2007). A Great American Cook: Recipes from the Home Kitchen of One of Our Most Influential Chefs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-65852-7.
  2. Raymond Sokolov, The Cook's Canon, 2003, ISBN 0-06-008390-5, p. 183 at Internet Archive
  3. Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Mongol Warrior 1200–1350 (1st ed.). London: Osprey Publishing. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-84176-583-9.
  4. Nataša Polgar, "Joinville: A Hagiographic Story about Oneself and About the Other," Narodna umjetnost: hrvatski časopis za etnologiju i folkloristiku 45:1:21-41 (2008), p. 31, 39
  5. Smith, Craig S. (2005-04-06). "The Raw Truth: Don't Blame the Mongols (or Their Horses)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-09-05.
  6. Dalby, Andrew (1992). "Greeks abroad: social organisation and food among the ten thousand". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 112: 16–30. doi:10.2307/632150. ISSN 0075-4269. JSTOR 632150. S2CID 163380519.
  7. 1802, "Oxford English Dictionary"
  8. Fitzgibbon, Theodora (January 1976). The Food of the Western World: An Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe (1st ed.). London: Random House Inc. ISBN 978-0-8129-0427-7.
  9. Farmer, Fannie Merritt (1896). Boston Cooking-School Cookbook. Gramercy (ed. 1997). ISBN 978-0-517-18678-7.
  10. Murrey, Thomas Jefferson (1887). "Eating Before Sleeping" (PDF). Cookery for Invalids (1st ed.). New York City: White Stokes & Allen. pp. 30–33. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  11. Prosper Montagné (1938), "Larousse gastronomique"
  12. Emmanuel Guillemain d'Echon, Dans Les steaks de l’Asie tartare, 17 August 2015
  13. Sokolov, Raymond (2004). How to Cook Revised Edition: An Easy and Imaginative Guide for the Beginner. New York, NY (USA): Harper Collins. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-0-06-008391-5. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  14. Albert Jack, What Caesar Did for My Salad: Not to Mention the Earl's Sandwich, Pavlova's Meringue and Other Curious Stories Behind Our Favourite Food, 2010, ISBN 1-84614-254-7, p. 141 at Google Books
  15. ""tartar steak" - Google Search". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  16. Prosper Montagné, Charlotte Snyder Turgeon, The new Larousse gastronomique: the encyclopedia of food, wine & cookery, 1977, p. 334
  17. Gael Greene, "Le Colisee Thrown to the Lions," New York (magazine) November 3, 1975, p. 101
  18. "Fresh Meat for Steak Tartar". Archived from the original on 2013-08-03. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  19. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-11-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. "Toxoplasmosis | ANSES - Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'environnement et du travail". 18 January 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  21. Cook, A J C.; Gilbert, R. E.; Buffolano, W.; Zufferey, J.; Petersen, E.; Jenum, P. A.; Foulon, W.; Semprini, A. E.; Dunn, D. T. (2000). "Sources of toxoplasma infection in pregnant women: European multicentre case-control studyCommentary: Congenital toxoplasmosis—further thought for food". BMJ. 321 (7254): 142–147. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7254.142. PMC 27431. PMID 10894691.
  22. "404" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2013-04-29. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  23. Gajewski, Patrick D.; Falkenstein, Michael; Hengstler, Jan G.; Golka, Klaus (February 2014). "Toxoplasma gondii impairs memory in infected seniors". Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 36: 193–199. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2013.11.019. ISSN 1090-2139. PMID 24321215. S2CID 1388359.
  24. Flegr, J.; Preiss, M.; Klose, J.; Havlícek, J.; Vitáková, M.; Kodym, P. (2003). "Decreased level of psychobiological factor novelty seeking and lower intelligence in men latently infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii Dopamine, a missing link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis?". Biological Psychology. 63 (3): 253–268. doi:10.1016/S0301-0511(03)00075-9. PMID 12853170. S2CID 18434783.
  25. Dickerson, F.; Stallings, C.; Origoni, A.; Vaughan, C.; Katsafanas, E.; Khushalani, S.; Yolken, R. (2013). "Antibodies toToxoplasma gondiiin individuals with mania". Bipolar Disorders. 16 (2): 129–136. doi:10.1111/bdi.12123. PMID 24102676. S2CID 19393503.
  26. Jacques Mercier, Au coeur des mots: Les rubriques de Monsieur Dico, p. 216
  27. Food & Wine Magazine. "Why you see steak tartare on hip restaurant menues". Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  28. Whitefield, Paul (6 December 2013). "'War on Christmas' expands to 'war on cannibal sandwich' in Wisconsin". Archived from the original on 25 June 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2018 via LA Times.
  29. Barry Adams, Wisconsin State Journal. "On Wisconsin: Raw sirloin, a holiday tradition — for some". Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  30. Bayless, Rick (2010). Fiesta at Rick's: fabulous food for great times with friends. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-393-24179-2. OCLC 915589906.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  31. "'Carne de Onça' une gastronomia de diversos países no mesmo petisco". 10 June 2014. Archived from the original on 27 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  32. Getahun, Solomon Addis; Kassu, Wudu Tafete (2014-02-27). Culture and Customs of Ethiopia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313086069. Archived from the original on 2018-04-29.


  • Linda Stradley, I'll Have What They're Having: Legendary Local Cuisine, Falcon, 2002
  • Smith, Craig S. (6 April 2005). "The Raw Truth: Don't Blame the Mongols (or Their Horses)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-09.
  • Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook, revised edition 2004, ISBN 0-06-008391-3, p. 41 at Google Books
  • Albert Jack, What Caesar Did for My Salad: Not to Mention the Earl's Sandwich, Pavlova's Meringue and Other Curious Stories Behind Our Favourite Food, 2010, ISBN 1-84614-254-7, p. 141 at Google Books
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