Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

Raw Beef 20 May, 2011

Filed under: food & drink,news — johnraff @ 2:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

The Tartars have a lot to answer for. I don’t know if you have “tartare steak” where you live, but minced raw beef, possibly mixed with onion, and topped with a raw egg is a standard menu item in many countries in Europe and America. The story is that the Tartars brought the dish to Europe as part of the Mongolian invasion. I don’t know whether the Tartars are supposed to have invented it themselves or got it from the Mongols, but it’s interesting to note that at the other end of the Mongolian sphere of influence, in East Asia, there are things like steak tartare too. Laos and Thailand have a dish called laap (or larp or laab) which is minced, sometimes raw, meat with herbs and spices, Bali has something called lawar, and Korea has yukhoe. This is definitely raw beef, and there are other elements in Korean culture to suggest Mongolian influences, so yukhoe could well be a Far Eastern version of Tartare steak.

Korean food is popular here in Japan too, especially grilled beef (pulgogi in Korea and yakiniku here) and recently yukke, the Japanese take on yukhoe, has been a very popular side dish. Of course Japan is the land of raw fish, so nobody gets too worried about raw beef – in fact I’ve had beef sashimi a few times and it’s quite good if the beef is of decent quality. That is, until a couple of weeks ago. The last two weeks the TV news has been full of reports about a spate of food poisoning cases at a yakiniku chain, where people had eaten the (very cheap at ¥280) yukke. A lot of people ended up in hospital, and four died. Food poisoning isn’t only about vomiting and diarrhoea.


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