Main Dishes Raw & Fermented

Four Traditional Ways to Prepare Raw Beef

Many experts now agree with the traditional wisdom that eating 50% or more of our foods in a raw or fermented state can foster optimal health and nutrition.

Fresh, local, organic foods in their raw or fermented state are nutrient-dense and packed with enzymes and beneficial lacto-bacteria that help us absorb vitamins and maintain a healthy digestive system. This is especially true of raw, pasture-raised meats, eggs and dairy, as well as wild caught seafood.

The Benefits of Raw Animal Foods

Cooking (or, worse, microwaving, pasteurizing or irradiating) animal foods denatures their fat and protein, destroys their enzymes and reduces their vitamin content. For example, people who are lactose-intolerant to pasteurized dairy often have no problem with raw milk, which has its lactase enzyme intact to break down the lactose naturally.

Raw meat is very easy to digest. Many people note that indigestion goes away after switching to raw meat. Raw meat also has significantly more vitamins than cooked meat and contains enzymes for digestion. Raw fats help balance metabolism and detoxify the body.

When you grill meat, sear it, or cook it above medium rare, you not only destroy nutrients, but you can also create oxidized fats and chemical byproducts that are highly toxic to the body. Some of these byproducts, like the char on blackened meat and fish, are carcinogenic.

Long ago, charred meat was probably one of the few toxins ever unknowingly introduced into our lives. But today, given how polluted our natural environment has become, how stressed out our modern lives are, and how depleted most of our food is to begin with, adding to your body’s toxic burden by eating denatured foods that have been ultra-pasteurized, irradiated, microwaved or cooked too long at high temperatures is just not a very good idea.

Eating at least 50% of your food in a raw or lacto-fermented state can greatly improve your nutrition, and therefore your health! Some raw or lacto-fermented foods you might add more of in your diet include:

  • vegetable salads
  • sushi or sashimi
  • raw milk or raw milk cheese
  • yogurt or kefir
  • carpaccio or pastrami
  • sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables
  • raw egg smoothies
  • fermented cod liver oil
  • frozen raw liver “pills”

Selecting Raw Foods

Raw meat or seafood “cooked” in acid (citrus, vinegar, etc.) and seasoned with local spices is an ancient and traditional way of preparing meat that goes by many names, and is enjoyed by many people worldwide.

However, the quality of the meat is paramount to the success of the dish, and, considering the horrid bugs that occasionally strike those who eat industrially-raised, feedlot meats, selecting your meat properly is very important.

To eat any raw foods safely (plant or animal), always make sure they are organic, and preferably raised on a local, small farm you can visit. Any animal products you intend to eat raw must not only be organic, but also pasture-raised and grass-fed. Anything else just isn’t safe.

While industrially-produced, grain-fed animal products from the grocery store are typically not clean enough to eat rare, much less raw, you can often find eggs, meat, seafood and dairy that are fresh, toxin-free and pasture-raised from local farmers (or wild-caught by local fishermen).

Another good place to find clean meat is in a good butcher shop,, or through online retailers like U.S. Wellness Meats and Vital Choice Seafood. (Sushi, anyone?)

The beef we buy comes from healthy, local, 100% pasture-raised cattle that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics. The beef is flash-frozen immediately after butchering, so we feel very comfortable eating it raw.

To eat raw beef safely, you want to find a thick, whole piece of grass-fed beef fillet or sirloin, preferably from a local farmer you can trust.

Choose fillet or sirloin because it’s tender, and whole because the bacteria that can cause food poisoning can’t penetrate a whole piece of meat—they stay on the surface.

When you get it home, quickly sear it on all sides—you’re just killing whatever’s on the surface, not cooking the meat. Then remove it from the flames, trim away the seared sections, and you’re ready to proceed.

For more information, Recipe for Living Without Disease, by raw-foodist Aajonus Vonderplanitz, has some excellent recipes and tips for selecting and preparing raw animal foods safely.

Traditional Raw Beef Recipes

Almost all cultures that eat traditional whole food diets have recipes for raw meat, and trying these dishes can really give you a unique and exciting taste of the culture itself.

Everyone should try well-prepared raw beef once, even if you think you won’t like it, as it can be a real treat indeed. And, when from a pasture-raised cow, beef is packed with Vitamins A, D and B-12 as well as iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium, which most Americans have deficiencies in.

Grass-fed beef also is very high in Omega-3 fatty acides and is the highest source of cancer-fighting Conjugated Linoleic Acid.

Related: Why Eating Meat (or Eggs or Dairy) Won’t Kill You

Here are four traditional raw beef recipes from different parts of the world.

Steak Tartare - France
Serves 8
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  1. 2 lbs. choice or prime grass-fed sirloin
  2. 2 Tbsp. capers
  3. 1 small onion, chopped
  4. 2 egg yolks, preferably from organic, pasture-raised eggs
  5. 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  6. Sea salt, to taste
  7. Black pepper, to taste
  8. 6 anchovy filets, cut in small pieces
  9. Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  10. Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce
  11. 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  12. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  13. 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  1. Chop the meat very finely with a sharp, long-bladed knife. Don't use a grinder, because the texture will suffer.
  2. Mix ingredients carefully to maintain fluffiness.
  3. Shape into a large loaf.
  4. Garnish with anchovy strips, more onions, more capers.
  5. Enjoy with toast points or any kind of cracker.
Small Footprint Family
Carne Cruda - Italy
Serves 2
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  1. A pound of top quality, grass-fed beef fillet
  2. The juice of 2 organic lemons
  3. Two cloves garlic, crushed flat (or more, to taste)
  4. Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  5. 1 white truffle (optional)
  6. 1 rinsed, boned and minced salted anchovy (optional)
  1. Chop the meat very finely with a sharp, long-bladed knife. Don't use a grinder, because the texture will suffer.
  2. Put the meat in a bowl and mix the lemon juice into it, together with the garlic, and season abundantly with olive oil (as much as the lemon juice or perhaps more), salt and pepper. If you are using the anchovy, add it now.
  3. Let the meat sit, for between 10 minutes and two hours—the longer it sits the more the pinkness will fade, as the lemon juice cooks the meat.
  4. Once it has sat, mix it again, removing the garlic when you do.
  5. Put it on a serving dish, and garnish it with finely shaved truffle if you're using it, and serve it as an antipasto.
  6. Enjoy!
Small Footprint Family
Kitfo - Ethiopia
Serves 6
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  1. 2 lbs. grass-fed top round or sirloin
  2. 6 tsp. Mitmita* or ground cayenne pepper (where to find Mitmita online)
  3. 4 Tbsp. clarified butter or ghee
  4. 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  5. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (Optional)
  6. Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Cut the meat into small pieces; remove fat and sinews.
  2. In a food processor put small amount of the meat at a time, sprinkle on some Mitmita or cayenne, process until meat is finely chopped. Alternately, you can mince the meat very fine with knives.
  3. Using a fork, remove any fat or sinews from the minced, spiced meat; repeat the process until all the meat is done.
  4. In small pot, melt the clarified butter or ghee over low heat, mix in the remaining Mitmita or cayenne, cardamom, garlic, black pepper, and sea salt; remove from heat.
  5. Combine the spicy ground meat with the spicy butter, and mix thoroughly until the meat is completely marinated.
  6. If preferred, sauté the marinated meat for two to three minutes.
  7. Enjoy immediately with Injera or bread.
  1. * You can also find Mitmita in Ethiopian or Indian groceries.
Small Footprint Family
Beef Laab - Thailand
Serves 4
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  1. 1 Tbsp. raw, uncooked rice (I used Jasmine)
  2. 1 lb. grass-fed, sirloin steak
  3. 3-5 shallots
  4. 1 bunch cilantro
  5. 1 bunch mint
  6. 4-6 Thai bird chilies
  7. 3 Kaffir lime leaves
  8. ¾ Tbsp. Asian fish sauce
  9. ½ lime
  10. Salt to taste, if necessary
  11. Lettuce leaves for serving
  1. Toast the rice in a dry skillet, shaking occasionally, until golden and fragrant.
  2. Grind toasted rice to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  3. Chop the meat very finely with a sharp, long-bladed knife. Don't use a grinder, because the texture will suffer.
  4. Mince the shallots, herbs, chilies and lime leaves.
  5. Combine all ingredients, and season with fish sauce and lime juice.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  7. Wrap the laab in lettuce leaves, and enjoy!
  1. Start with these amounts and adjust to your taste. Use big bunches of herbs, err on the side of too much, and it will probably end up just right.
Small Footprint Family

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.


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  • A former manager and I loved to eat raw locally raised bison. We’d mix a 1/2 lb. with salt, lemon juice, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and finely chopped onion. Wow! Talk about a great flavor and nutritional hit.
    But, we’d also believed that freezing would kill All bugs and parasites. Glad to read more info about this, and to discover that we could have been taking a risk. Thankfully, it was local and pasture fed, we knew the producers, and proved to suffer no ill effects.

  • At family weddings in the 50’s and 60’s everyone brought food. One thing we always had was finely chopped raw beef, it would be spread on slices of rye bread and sprinkled with thinly sliced raw onion and salt and pepper. Always my favourite!

  • How long would leftovers keep? I’m the only one preparing and eating this, so even if I cut a recipe in half, would it still be good for lunch the next day? or longer?

  • Hi Dawn…coming from A Humble Bumble blog hop.

    We own a family farm here in MO and raise our own beef, so you’ve almost persuaded me to try the Carne Cruda. It actually sounds delicious.

    I’m pinning this so I can keep it handy.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • I’m so happy to have found this page. Raw beef is one my absolute favorite things in the entire world (right up there with a great champagne, and QT with the hubby) and I’ve been looking to find ways to prepare it at home, just wish grass-fed beef was easier to find in Northern Florida. Thank you!!!

    • I live in Atlanta and just discovered “Maverick Ranch” organic, grass fed beef & bison at Kroger. You might check your local Kroger, if you have one.

      Good Hunting & Gathering.

  • I’ve never experienced tartare! However I am a huge fan of a nice super thinly sliced beef carpaccio. It is ironic how the char that so many fans of grilling love can be carcinogenic, isn’t it? Overall I tend not to worry about these things as it can drive me nuts, but I have been trying to support our local ranch, purchasing their delicious grass fed beef.

  • Australia’s aboriginal people are not especially long-lived. Nor werre they when living in their traditional way.

    I do agree with your main point – that we should eat real food. As to meat – it has become much fattier over the years. Tribal people’s meat was effectively game – much less fat.

    • Our meat has become fattier indeed. It’s all that GMO soy and corn cows eat, and their lack of exercise—just like American people! Grass-fed beef or bison meat is significantly less fatty than commercially raised beef, which is the closest we Americans are really going to get to “game” on a wide scale.

      • Plus, grass fed beef contains omega 3 fat that we all need more of! Pasture based farming is a win win situation for our people and our planet. When animals eat the grass (which humans can’t digest), they convert energy from the sun into powerful nutrients. Not only that, they nourish and fertilize the soil too.

        If factory farms were converted to pasture based ones, then our people and our planet would be a lot healthier.

        Thanks for sharing the recipes! I will definitely give them a try.

        • Not to mention that farming actually destroys a lot of land compared to properly raising cattle. Also, cattle can be raised on land that wouldn’t be suitable for farming.

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