Kitfo (Ethiopian Steak Tartare With Seasoned Clarified Butter)

Elazar Tamano

30 minutes

Serves 6-8 as a starter

Photo by Sivan Roshiano

“I discovered kitfo at the market in Addis Ababa, and found it very exciting. This steak tartare is a typical dish of the city. Kitfo, meaning ‘to chop’ or ‘to mince,’ is traditionally finely chopped into a paste and seasoned with chewu and berbere. This is not a Jewish Ethiopian dish: My father was disgusted (because it is raw meat), while my mother, a Christian who converted to Judaism, was actually very interested.

Kitfo is usually served over a spinach stew topped with an Ethiopian version of ricotta cheese called aib. I found it too heavy, so I created my own version. — Elazar Tamano 

Cook’s note: Chewu, a chili paste, along with the spice blend berbere, and telba, or toasted flax, can be found at Ethiopian spice shops like Sod Hakesem in Yehud. If you can’t find chewu, you can substitute berbere. 

Ingredients

  • 8.8 ounces / 250 grams tri tip steak, fat trimmed (gross weight about 14 ounces / 400 grams)
  • 4-6 tablespoons chewu butter (see recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • Salt
  • For the chewu butter:
  • 7 ounces / 200 grams butter
  • 2 tablespoons chewu spice mix, available at Ethiopian shops
  • For the aioli:
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 2/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 2 generous tablespoons telba
  • For the fried potato chips:
  • 2 potatoes suitable for frying, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Fine salt
  • ½ tablespoon berbere spice mix
  • Oil, for deep frying
  • To serve:
  • 1-2 injera

Preparation

  1. Prepare the chewu butter: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Using a spoon, skim off the foamy milk solids that rise to the top before they burn. Strain the butter through cheesecloth into a bowl, add the chewu and mix well.
  2. Prepare the aioli: beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a food processor (or in a bowl, if using a stick blender). Add the oil in a slow drizzle while mixing continuously, to a thick light cream. Add the remaining lemon juice and ground flax seeds, season with salt to taste and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Prepare the fried potato chips: use a towel to pat dry the grated potatoes, transfer to a bowl and mix with the cornstarch to combine.
  4. Heat oil for deep frying to 320°F / 160°C and fry the grated potatoes for 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel. Refry the grated potato chips until crispy, but remove before they turn golden. Season with salt and berbere spice mix and gently mix to cover.
  5. Prepare the kitfo: thinly slice the meat. Cut each slice into strips and chop finely to a paste. Add chewu butter and scallions and mix well. Season with salt to taste.
  6. To serve: Serve the kitfo over an injera (you can cut out small circles from a large injera or prepare small individual injeras), generously drizzle the aioli on top, and sprinkle the fried potato chips.

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