Here we go. This is probably the most savage dish in the famous Polish menu. I am taking the privilege of presenting a raw meat snack. It can be consumed in form of a sandwich or as is, with a piece of fresh Polish bread on side. It is recommended to eat it in moderate amounts since it is loaded with nutrients and served usually before meal, such as kind of an appetizer.
In the Old Country, we call it tatar or tatar steak. Tatar is a name of a nomad Mongol horseman, wild and simple human being whose food was evidently simple as well, because it would have been extremely difficult to come out with a complex cuisine, being continuously in the move on a horseback. A legend says that Tatars (Mongols) ate raw meat tenderized under saddle during all-day-long ride. Personally, I do not believe this, yet the name of the food is still in use.
Surprisingly, so-called civilized nations also have their raw meat dishes, such as Hungarians or even Germans, who serve a raw chopped steak prepared of various meats, even raw pork, and called hackepeter or hakepeter.
Consuming of raw pork is strongly discouraged. It is too risky, no matter where the pig comes from.
To make a cannibal meat the Polish traditional way, we need lots of onion, some garlic, spices such as salt, black pepper, paprika. a very small pinch of curry powder, soy sauce or Maggi concentrate, egg yolk, cornichon pickles, eventually some sardines or anchovies to garnish.
And, guess, what. We need a Tatar meat which is the finest fraction of lean beef, preferably beef loin which we acquire unground. In such delicate matter, I would not trust a butcher who is not a member of my family – better safe than sorry.
First, we will chop a medium-sized onion as finely as we can; however, not allowing to lose a structure of the tissue. In other words, our onion should not become ground, milled or otherwise overprocessed.
Garlic is another story. By all means, it should be mashed to consistency of a thin paste. it is done the best with a broad knife or clever on a cutting board, with some coarse salt. One medium-sized clove seems to suffice for, say, one pound of meat.
The meat for tatar should be ground at least twice and worked to shape of a smooth dough and then, combined with chopped onion and the mashed garlic. All spices should be added gradually, according to chef’s preference. Some herbs can be used, yet in moderate amounts, such as oregano or marjoram, ground rosemary, maybe coriander, etc.
Sardines and pickles are often mixed with the main body of the tatar. However, in my opinion, these items should rest on the edge of individual saucer. Immediately before serving, an egg yolk is added to the meat and mixed well, either by the consumer or prior to the presentation. Some buffets apply a very dangerous and non-esthetic practice of storing portion of the tatar with an „eye” of egg yolk in the center. This is simply not allowed, from both, sanitary and visual standpoint. Regardless of how we prepare the tatar, it must be eaten within two hours when not refrigerated.
Next to the serving, we place fresh rye bread with thick, crusty skin and aromatic butter.
In the Old Country, with tatar, we often have a shot of straight vodka which must be well frozen. Nevertheless, I would not recommend it for a delicate Anglosaxon palate. Although, you never know…
The picture shows one of the ways to serve tatar, yet it must not be stored like this.