The Assassin’s Steak Tartare


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

By Jason Goodwin

Published 2016

  • About

The Tartars were like little brothers to the Ottomans. In wartime they rode on their hardy steppe ponies deep into enemy territory, sometimes as far as the banks of the Rhine. On these journeys they galloped without pause until, at a signal from their khan, they wheeled round and began making for their homeland in the Crimea, loading themselves with slaves and booty. They cured meat under their saddles, pounding it soft and fine, which they devoured raw. Get your beef absolutely fresh from a reputable butcher.


For Four Assassins

  • fillet of beef 250 g/8 oz
  • banana shallot 1, small
  • cornichons 4
  • capers 1 tbsp (rinsed if salted)
  • parsley ½ tbsp
  • tomato 1
  • pul biber ½ tsp, or a fresh chilli, deseeded
  • pinch of salt
  • egg yolk 1
  • black pepper


  • The bacteria that might kill you lies on the outer surface of the meat, so having bought your fillet you must take a very sharp knife and boldly slice away its outer edges all round.
  • Start afresh with a clean board and a clean knife. If you have a mezzoluna, so much the better. Chop the herbs and vegetables very fine. Sprinkle them with salt, and put them into a bowl.
  • Set the steak on the board and slice it as fine as you can, across the grain to begin with. Stack the slices together, squeeze them lightly, then slice them again, lengthways. Turn the board ninety degrees and press the fillet strips together again – they are almost as soft as putty, and cut smoothly when they are squeezed together. So finally cut them up in the opposite direction, as small as you can. Don’t mash them: you want soft crumbs of steak, not a paste.
  • Slide the chopped steak into the bowl with the herbs, chilli and vegetables, and mix well. Check for salt.
  • Scoop the steak tartare onto a plate, and make a depression at the top with the back of a soup spoon. Separate an egg yolk from the white and tip the yolk into the dip.
  • Grind black pepper over the plate. It’s very good with toast.