The Royal 17th Century Origins Of Korean Beef Tartare

Beef tartare or steak tartare is a raw meal that may seem a bit unsafe to eat, but if made well, it is extremely delicious and enjoyable. According to Oola, any kind of meat can be served "รก la tartare," or raw. These types of dishes can be found in many cultures around the world; for example, dulet is a similar minced meat and an Ethiopian delicacy. Much of the world is no stranger to eating raw meats like sushi, and beef tartare is not much different! Made by grinding raw beef with onions, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, capers, and spices together with raw egg yolk to create a velvety and meaty rich dish, beef tartare is usually served with bread in the West today and is typically considered an appetizer.

Korea has its own version. Gusto TV claims that the Korean dish "Yukhoe" is a classic dish of beef tartare made particularly delicious by the addition of soy sauce, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, gochujang chili paste, pears, and of course, the traditional addition of egg yolk.

Some historical context...

Yukhoe, as with other beef tartare you might have had the opportunity to try before, is made from high-quality beef with an earthy, chewy texture. What sets this Korean beef tartare apart from Western steak tartare is how it is flavored; yukhoe traditionally adds crispy pears and pine nut powder for flavor, as well as traditional Asian herbs and spices. According to the Michelin Guide, yukhoe is distinctly Korean in origin and first appeared sometime during the 17th century and became well documented by the end of the Joseon Dynasty. However, cows during the time period were mainly forbidden to kill, so only the royal family could legally enjoy this dish on special occasions.

The Soul of Seoul says that "Yuk" translates to "meat" and "hoe" to sashimi. These days, it is much easier to find yukhoe available to the masses, and the dish itself is taken quite seriously, with restaurants serving the food going the extra mile to list the beef's country of origin. Yukhoe is a savory food dating back centuries in Korea and continues to woo those who have a hankering for tasty meat and an open mind.