Spicy Turkish steak tartar balls, traditionally made with high quality, raw beef, have been a famous appetizer from the southeastern region of Turkey for centuries. Modern times have brought more stringent food regulations and today's Turkish chefs and home cooks are much more aware of food safety issues than they once were.
Thus, the meatless version of steak tartar, or raw beef meatballs, was born. This dish is a true paradox. Not only in the fact that it's a meatless meatball, but that it actually tastes like real meat!
It contains bulgur, tomato and pepper paste, onion, garlic and generous amounts of Turkish spices, without a drop of meat, blood or juice. Something in the mixture makes it taste like the real thing. That's why many restaurants, home chefs and food manufacturers choose recipes similar to this one for Turkish-style imitation steak tartar, or 'cig kofte' (CHEE' kuf-TAY').
Try this easy recipe at home and give your family a taste of classic Turkish regional cuisine without having to deal with raw meat. Just put a meatball in a cup of crisp Romaine lettuce, squeeze on some lemon juice, pop it in your mouth and enjoy. Once you taste them, one will never be enough!