John's Kitchen : Steak Tartare

【明報專訊】During the European Dark Ages civilisation fell into ignorance and ruthless barbarians (野蠻人) rode into Europe from the east. Villages were burned, women enslaved and men put to the sword. One of the most famous and bloody of these nomadic (遊牧的) barbarian tribes were the Tatars (also spelt: Tartars). Nomads like these did not live in one place, but kept moving and taking what they wanted.

According to legend, Tartar horsemen would put a slice of meat under their saddle (馬鞍) in the morning. Then they would ride their horses for a day, possibly burning a village. In the evening the meat would be very soft. The Tartars would then cut it up, mix it with a sauce and eat it raw. At least that was what the surviving Europeans thought the Tartars were doing. It might also have been that putting meat under a saddle is an old treatment for sores on a horse's back.

In France a type of food was created to mimic the legendary food of the Tartars. Softened raw beef is chopped up, then mixed with herbs and sauce. It is served on a piece of rye bread, with an egg yolk on top. The culture of the modern Tartar people has changed. They do not eat this type of food, if they ever did, and they would no longer burn down other people's villages.

Cleanliness is very important when preparing steak tartare. The cutting board and knives should be washed with boiling water. Steak tartare is French sushi.

text: John Larrysson