Beef Tartare with Fennel Shavings

Beef tartare has traditionally been a bit of a City-boy affair over here: all protein, the poor cow dying not only at the abattoir but a second time at the hands of the chef, unapologetically drowned in an overwhelming umami tsunami of Worcester sauce, tabasco and the like. It was always chopped into oblivion so it could absorb more of this seasoning. The version below could not be more different. It actually tastes healthy, in the way that ceviche, crudos and the like generally do. This is more a guide than a recipe, to help you on your way. Don’t dice the beef too small as you want to appreciate the texture. I always add a little rye breadcrumb or pickled mushrooms to the mix; diluting it from pure protein lightens the end result. You can add whatever herbs you like but chives are the most savoury; tarragon or dill would also work well. As for vinegar, I generally use dashi vinegar or Tosazu, which is well worth having in your cupboard at home. It bears an incomparable roundedness. Otherwise, I would suggest a sherry vinegar or Cabernet Sauvignon.

150g Wagyu, heart of rump, or other tender beef, roughly chopped 5-8mm

15g Vinegar

1 slice Rye bread, finely chopped

1 tbsp Cornichons, finely chopped

1 tbsp Chives, finely chopped

Generous pinch Salt

Grated horseradish or whole grain mustard, to taste

Good quality mayonnaise, mixed with some crème fraiche to lighten Fennel, saving the fronds for garnish

Vinaigrette (3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar / lemon juice, little mustard, salt, sugar)

- Mix everything together and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 mins for the flavours to develop.

Check seasoning, piquancy etc.

- Spoon a little mayo / crème fraiche mix onto the bottom of the plate, then spoon the beef tartare on top, keeping it quite wide and flat rather than a tall pile.

- Shave the fennel on a mandolin, or if you don’t have one grate coarsely on a box grater.

Season well (it can take it) and mix with the vinaigrette; again, you can be quite generous here.

- Scatter over the beef, and scatter on top any fennel fronds or some roughly chopped dill.

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