A historic and classic worldwide dish

THIS week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala creates a stunning, healthy and contemporary steak tartare dish.

MICHELE told me the other day that she wanted to be on a raw food diet. Strange because she will happily eat raw meat and raw fish, but doesn’t like it when cooked. So, her favourite dishes are steak tartare or beef carpaccio, ceviche of scallops or prawns, that kind of thing.

Steak tartare is a meat dish made from raw finely chopped meat. It is usually served with onions, capers, Worcester sauce and other spices often presented separately and mixed at the table, that is the classic way.

In the old days it was served with a raw egg yolk to hold it all together, nowadays we would marinate or souvide the egg yolk which cooks it.

The name tartare is often used for fish dishes like salmon and tuna. The dish a la tartare was originally a dish from the 1921 edition of Escoffier’s book who serves raw minced steak with tartare sauce on the side which is probably how the name stuck.

Beef Tartare can be found all over the world especially in Europe. They all have a version, so do the Americans and for hundreds of years the Africans have eaten a similar raw beef dish they call Kitfo which means minced and it is usually served with chilli powder, herbs and spices.

A historic and classic dish, but as a creative chef it is my job to try and evolve dishes for the better, or else everything just stands still. Food needs to develop like fashion does and I think the dish needs bringing more up-to-date, but I don’t want to lose its elegance.

In any case, I don’t really like the raw egg idea and never have really. People with weak immune systems might find the combination of raw meat with raw egg a challenge and surely a salmonella risk.

So, I have evolved the recipe and I am sharing it with you this week for the first time ever, but before I do. I have to tell you a story!

When I was training at the Savoy Hotel in London. We had many very famous clients including people like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, David Bowie and the Royal Family.

I was working in the restaurant as a trainee and someone ordered Beef Tartare. I was given a trolley loaded with ingredients including, spices, herbs, onions, egg yolk, capers etc.

I was briefed how to mix it all together and sent it over to the table. At the table was the comedian Norman Wisdom, a legend from the 60’s who my father adored. I recognised him immediately but with Savoy training, I was to say nothing about his celebrity status and just work as per normal.

I served him the beef tartare mixed and spiced up and after about five minutes he called over the head waiter and asked if it could be cooked a little bit more. The head waiter replied, “it isn’t cooked at all sir!” Norman said, “that’s a disgrace, don’t you have any chefs in this place!”

Of course, he was playing a joke on us, but he had us all in stitches as he said it in such an innocent way. So, when I prepare beef tartare I always think of Norman!

Years later I met up with Norman Wisdom again on an ITV afternoon show called Afternoon Live. He was an incredible musician and played the violin and piano brilliantly.

On the show, I was cooking and then singing. The song was called Crying Tonight which I had co-written, it can still be found on YouTube back when I was about 30 in my high waist leather trousers!

Norman said, “I didn’t know that you couldn’t sing Steven,” I replied, “how would you like your tartare cooked?” Lol It was typical Norman!

Disclaimer: Steven Saunders’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

Vietnamese Steak Tartare for 4

500g of best beef fillet hand-chopped finely into small cubes

Served with prawn cracker and an air

Ingredients for the dressing/marinade

  • Half a red onion very finely chopped
  • 100 ml of red wine vinegar
  • 25g of brown sugar
  • 1 red mild jalapeno chilli finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic peeled, blanched to remove bitterness and finely chopped
  • Approx 10g of fresh ginger (or pickled sushi ginger) finely chopped
  • Approx 10g of lemongrass puree
  • 50ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 dessertspoonful of honey
  • 1 tbsp of fresh basil chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp of fresh mint leaves chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh coriander chopped finely
  • A pinch of Maldon salt
  • A little ground black pepper

To construct and finish dish

In a clean glass bowl place, your chopped beef. Now heat the vinegar and add the sugar and the onion and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.

Allow to cool in a fridge and then when cold add all the ingredients except for the herbs, bit by bit and mix well with the raw beef.

Finally, fold in the herbs and put into rings approx 6cm into shape.

Top with prawn crackers and the air (see below) if using.

Note: the foam is made from soya lecithin we call it an air. It is made by heating water with a flavour like truffle (or a herb), add a flat tablespoon of the soya granules and with an electric blender you will create bubbles that stay up for a long time and when you eat them the flavour of the truffle bursts!

Follow Steven on Instagram ….@saunderschef

The Little Geranium, Winner of Best International Restaurant Spain…2020


For bookings: Michele@thelittlegeranium.com

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Steven Saunders

Steven Saunders FMCGB - The Little Geranium - La Cala de Mijas & Marbella