Picture the quintessential Parisian cliché of eating steak tartare at a street side brasserie on a summer evening with a glass of red wine and cigarette in hand if your penchants so dictate. But there’s a potentially dangerous underbelly to this deliciously daring dish: the usual parasitic bacterial risk that comes with eating raw flesh. I love steak tartare and feel somewhat safe while eating it at some of Paris’s most reputable raw meat serving establishments. But at the same time, whenever I find myself chewing on that red, saucy meat, I feel torn between gluttonous indulgence and slight disgust. In tandem with this culinary experience is an obsessive cyclical thought tune of: “Mmm what complex flavors! … I wonder how fresh this is … I’m sure they’re careful… but it's raw meat… but check out my evolved, daring palette! … maybe a little too daring? … you’re eating it already, commit!” Exhausting.
Life is stressful enough without obsessive raw meat fears. And I might be shunned from diehard French foodies for suggesting this, but if I think about it, the meat is more of a vehicle for that amazing, umami-ripe tartare sauce. Without it, you would just be eating raw meat, which is pretty boring, even for the Paleo food culties.
In my healthy, vegan take on steak tartare, beets are used in place of the meat. The mind is a funny thing when it comes to food: the mere bloody redness of the beets can give the phantom impression that you're eating the real thing. And the powerful flavor of the tartare sauce might just prove my controversial theory that it is really all about the sauce. My dish tastes remarkably similar to steak tartare, but with the added perk of nutrient-packed beets and no stress.
Serves approximately 6
Beets, 10-12 small to medium size
Capers, 6 tablespoons
Onion, 1 large/2 small
Cilantro (or Parsley), handful (diced)
Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons
Mustard, 2 tablespoons
Avocado mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons
Sambal (hot pepper sauce), 1 teaspoon (optional)
Dried Cranberries, 2-3 tablespoon (optional)
Boil beets in water until they can be pierced with a knife. Let cool, peel, and dice into small squares.
Finely chop the onions, cilantro (or parsley), and dried cranberries.
Combine all ingredients and serve. Adjust the proportions of the sauce ingredients (mustard, Worcestershire sauce, avocado mayonnaise, sambal) to taste.
Leftovers tip: Use leftover beet tartare in a salad, on crackers or bruschetta or purée it into a sauce to accompany meat, poultry or fish.