Recipe: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Brydie Thompson

A favourite restaurant dish the world over, steak tartare originated in France. There are many variations but they all centre around premium quality, raw beef finely chopped. The original dish had the meat served with tartare sauce, yet this is rarely seen. Now, variations normally consist of the components that make up a tartare: capers, shallots, gherkins or cornichons and egg yolk.

My version uses First Light short loin venison. Like eye fillet, it is a very tender, almost fat free cut, so a perfect alternative to beef eye fillet. You can now get First Light venison delivered to your door, along with premium export quality NZ beef and lamb from

300g First Light venison short loin (striploin), trimmed to remove any sinew or fat
1 tbsp capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp gherkin or cornichons, finely chopped
3 dashes of Tabasco (optional)
½ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 quail egg yolks (if you can’t find quail eggs, you can use chicken but may only need two)

Place the venison in the freezer for 30 minutes‒1 hour. Chilling the meat will help you to chop it very finely.

While the meat is chilling, finely chop the capers, shallot, parsley and gherkin.

Cut the venison into very thin slices. Then, stacking a few slices at a time, cut the meat crosswise, again forming very thin strips. Finally, gather a few strips together and dice crosswise, cutting the venison into tiny cubes.

Mix the fine chopped meat in a bowl along with everything but the egg yolks. Mix well before dividing onto two‒four plates and forming into a round. A round cookie cutter or mould can help create a neat circle.

Place an egg yolk on top of each mound and serve with melba toast or thin crostini.

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