Beef tataki

Posted on July 16, 2013

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This is probably a little anti-foodie to admit, but I use to order my steaks well done. In my defense, I didn’t grow up eating a lot of steak so the thought of eating a bloody piece of meat freaked me out a touch. My palate has since matured and I have even developed a particular fondness towards beef tataki which is dish of thinly sliced rare beef. But tataki is probably where I’d draw my line. I’ve eaten yukke (a Korean or Japanese style beef tartar) before but I can’t say I enjoy it very much. Anyway that’s probably more than you’ll ever need to know about my meat eating preferences…

Beef tataki is one of those dishes that look pretty impressive when presented but is actually very easy to make. I discovered just how easily recently. So easy that I’m not even going to pretend this is a recipe, it’s more of a guide of how you can make beef tataki. Seriously when a dish is this simple, you don’t need such specific instructions.

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At its core, beef tataki is simply a cold dish of thinly sliced rare beef that has been marinated in a citrus soy sauce. To make the dish, it is as simple as:

  1. searing a piece of beef fillet evenly on all sides (to clarify I mean eye fillet)
  2. allowing it to rest to room temperature
  3. marinating it overnight in the fridge
  4. thinly slicing beef, then serve at room temperature

The marinade base is soy and then the citrus and sweet flavours are introduced until you achieve a blend of salty, tangy and sweet that you like. You will need enough marinade to submerge your beef into; about 125mL should be sufficient to cover a ~250g piece of beef fillet.

There are two Japanese citrus sauces you can use in the marinade: ponzu or yuzu. Either or is fine and you could even use a mix of these. Fresh citrus juice (lemon or lime) can also be used. At the time of making this dish, my local Asian grocer was out of stock for both ponzu and yuzu (what are the chances?!). So I cheated and used a pre-mixed ponzu citrus soy sauce. I also added the juice of half a lime into my marinade because I didn’t find the pre-mix sauce tangy enough for my liking.

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To add a little sweetness to the marinade, mirin is usually used but if you’re not too hung up about being uber traditional, plain white sugar will also suffice. A couple of drops of sesame oil is usually mixed into the marinade as well to fragrance it.

To serve, thinly slice the beef fillet and arrange it in a row so that it slightly overlaps.

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Warm the marinade a little and then pour a couple of tablespoons of the marinade over the beef slices. Garnish with chopped spring onion tips (the green bits). I added deep fried shallots to garnish my dish because I happen to like the textural contrast it gives. Also Nobu serves his version of beef tataki with ‘garlic chips’, so I figured deep fried shallots is a close enough proxy.

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Easy peasy right? I hope the lack of recipe doesn’t deter you from trying it. Beef tataki is wonderfully simple to make at home. It’s an excellent starter/entrée dish to serve and is really great for when you want to show off your cooking prowess ;).

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