Steak tartare appears quite often on menus in Hungarian restaurants. Usually the beef loin is matured covered in oil and some spices and herbs. This is a necessary step – unfortunately meat is not allowed to be aged long enough because of regulations of the health department. The beef is then minced using a grinder to order and usually served already mixed with spices, onions, garlic, an egg yolk and toast. This is the classic version you get in Hungary, but nowadays more elaborate tartares start to show up. Recently, I had a steak tartare at the Winekitchen, where the beef was finely chopped to order (by hand!) and served with fresh warm bread and mayonnaise made of pumpkin seed oil. It inspired me to create my own summer version of steak tartare.
Cutting beef loin to very small cubes by hand preserves the wonderful texture of the beef tenderloin much better than grinding. Here in Germany I was able to use a well-aged slice of beef, so I could skip the oil-maturing. The tartare itself has only minimal seasoning by some shallots, capers, salt, pepper and mild olive oil. It is essential to freshly grind the pepper, because it adds a subtle flowery and fresh note to the dish. I placed the tartare on small plates and garnished it with bell pepper coulis, which has a similar texture to mayonnaise. Although, I served the dish cold, as an appetizer it is always advisable to add a vibrant component to tickle the palate. The small tomatoes preserved in vinegar at Food in Jars inspired me to treat tomatoes as fruits and preserve them the same way as mustard fruits. Mustard fruits have a unique balance between sweet, sour and slightly pungent flavors, which was just what I was looking for to complete this dish. I used only the flesh of the tomatoes and discarded the pulp. The appetizer was finished with a few drops of dill oil, which made every bite taste a little bit different and kept the dish interesting till the end.