Steak Tartare with Tonnato and Black Lime Vinaigrette

Steak Tartare with Tonnato and Black Lime Vinaigrette
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About This Recipe

In the heart of California’s wine country, where the rolling hills of Napa and Sonoma cradle some of the world's most prized vineyards, culinary innovation is as much a part of the culture as the vines themselves. Here, where wine and food converge in an artful dance of flavors, the Steak Tartare with Tonnato and Black Lime Vinaigrette was born—a dish that encapsulates the essence of this region.

The story behind this dish is one of adventure and exploration. Drawing inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, the Steak Tartare was envisioned as a delicate fusion of cultures. While traditional steak tartare has European roots, the introduction of tonnato, an Italian tuna sauce, lends a unique umami richness, harmoniously connecting with the fresh, raw beef. And then, there's the twist—black lime vinaigrette. Black lime, often found in Middle Eastern dishes, offers a citrusy yet deep flavor that, when combined with the beef and tonnato, creates a culinary masterpiece.

But any local from the Napa or Sonoma region will tell you, a dish is only as good as the wine that complements it. Nestled in these valleys are vineyards like Saintsbury, which offers a Pinot Noir that’s a safe bet for this dish. Its earthy undertones and bright red fruit flavors harmonize well with the raw beef. For those with a preference for classic pairings, a visit to Lang & Reed is a must. Their Cabernet Franc, with its peppery notes, is perfect for handling the aromatic caraway seeds and tanginess of the black lime vinaigrette. And if you're feeling a bit adventurous, venture beyond the usual choices and explore the Grüner Veltliner from Zocker Winery. Its high acidity and peppery notes make it a delightful pairing with this tartare.

Now, let's discuss the dish's integration into a broader menu. Start with a light salad, perhaps one that emphasizes the freshness of Californian produce. After the steak tartare, consider a main dish like grilled lamb or roasted vegetables. Given the richness of the tartare, a lighter main course can offer a balanced dining experience. Finish the meal with a classic Napa dessert—perhaps a fig tart or a lemon sorbet.

Visiting Napa and Sonoma is not just about tasting wines; it's about experiencing the culture, history, and culinary delights that make this region unique. From the small, family-owned vineyards to the grand wine estates, there's a story in every bottle and on every plate. As you drive down the scenic routes of these valleys, you'll discover local eateries, bustling farmers' markets, and charming bed and breakfasts. Each offers a slice of Northern Californian life, waiting to be savored.

In conclusion, the Steak Tartare with Tonnato and Black Lime Vinaigrette is more than just a dish; it's a journey through Napa and Sonoma's rich culinary landscape. Paired with the right wine, it becomes an experience, a memory, a story to be told. So the next time you find yourself in California's wine country, remember to explore, taste, and immerse yourself in the flavors that define this beautiful region. And if you're looking to recreate this experience at home, ensure you get the best wines to accompany your dish, making every bite an ode to Napa and Sonoma.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Black Lime

Black lime, or loomi as it’s often called in Middle Eastern cuisine, is a culinary gem. These limes are boiled in salt water and then sun-dried, resulting in a unique, fermented flavor profile that's both sour and smoky. Not only does it add depth to our Steak Tartare recipe, but its intense flavor allows it to stand out as the dish's star element. Rich in antioxidants, black lime also offers health benefits, making it a beloved ingredient for both taste and well-being.

How to Perfectly Hand-Cut Steak for Tartare

  1. Start by choosing a fresh, high-quality cut of beef like sirloin or tenderloin.
  2. Place the steak in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes before cutting; this will make it easier to handle.
  3. With a sharp knife, slice the beef against the grain into thin sheets.
  4. Stack these sheets and cut them into thin strips.
  5. Finally, dice these strips to achieve a fine mince.
  6. Remember, the texture is key for tartare, so take your time and aim for uniform pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use regular limes instead of black limes? While regular limes can add acidity to the dish, they won't provide the unique fermented and smoky flavor of black lime. If you can't find black limes, consider using a mix of fresh lime zest and a touch of smoked paprika as an alternative.
  2. How long can I store the steak tartare in the refrigerator? Steak tartare is best enjoyed fresh, but if you must store it, ensure it’s in an airtight container and consume it within 24 hours.
  3. Are there any allergens in the tonnato sauce? Tonnato sauce typically contains tuna and anchovies. If you have a fish allergy, you should avoid this sauce or look for fish-free alternatives.
  4. Can I substitute another meat for the beef in this tartare recipe? Yes, while beef is traditional for tartare, you can also use fresh, high-quality cuts of tuna or salmon. Adjust the seasoning to match the chosen protein.
  5. What tools do I need to make this dish? A sharp knife is essential for hand-cutting the steak. Additionally, a whisk or blender will be useful for the vinaigrette and tonnato sauce.

Tips for Success

  1. Freshness is Key: Always opt for the freshest ingredients, especially when working with raw meats. This ensures not only the best flavor but also safety in consumption.
  2. Balance Your Flavors: Steak tartare is a delicate dish, and each ingredient shines through. Ensure your seasonings are balanced so that no single element overpowers the others.
  3. Presentation Matters: Steak tartare is as much about presentation as taste. Consider using ring molds or other shaping tools to plate your tartare elegantly, enhancing the dining experience.

Recipe Overview

Steak Tartare with Tonnato and Black Lime Vinaigrette
Lily Anderson
2 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 8 oz. prime beef tenderloin, very finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds, toasted
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup tonnato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. black lime powder
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Start by toasting the caraway seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the finely chopped beef tenderloin, minced shallot, parsley, capers, and toasted caraway seeds. Gently mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the black lime powder, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard to create the vinaigrette.
  4. Lay out serving plates and shape the beef mixture into rounds or your preferred shape on each plate.
  5. Drizzle the tartare with tonnato sauce, followed by the black lime vinaigrette.
  6. Place an egg yolk atop each serving of tartare.
  7. Serve immediately with crusty bread or crackers of choice.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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