I got the idea to do this dish during the recent heatwave in Southern California, but there was no way I was going to turn on my oven for an hour and a half to slow roast something. Although the heat finally lifted and the cool air oozed its way back into our home, I still wasn’t crazy about turning the oven on, but this turned out to be worth it.
Tartare is technically raw, but this isn’t meat and that’s not a egg yolk, so there are multiple infractions against the term here. But how fun is it to say beet tartare? This is a soft and velvety beet dish with a little salt, a tiny bit of acid, the right amount of umami and rounded out with some fat. The toasted walnuts add a little contrasting crunch while the vegan sour cream balances out the acidity and adds a subtle creamy note.
The mango yolk is made using a molecular cooking technique called reverse spherification—which sounds difficult but is really easy to do. It’s not critical to this dish, but it looks really pretty and it’s also kind of fun to nick the membrane and see it run onto the plate just like an egg yolk.
BEET TARTARE WITH MANGO YOLK
Yields: 2 1/2 cups + 10 mango yolks
for the beets
- 4-5 small red beets
- 2-3 cups coarse sea salt
- 2 medium shallots, minced
for the marinade
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 tsp coconut vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
for the mango yolks
- 3 cups cold water
- 1 tsp sodium alginate
- 6 oz. pureed mango
- 3 TB plain vegan yogurt (I used Kite Hill brand)
- 1 tsp calcium lactate
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup minced raw kale
- vegan sour cream, for serving
To salt-roast the beets
- preheat your oven to 375.
- Using a glass pyrex that’s large enough to accommodate the beets, pour a layer of salt onto the bottom of the dish. Scrub and rinse the unpeeled beets and place them into the pyrex wet. You’ll want the layer to be thick enough so the beets don’t make contact with the bottom of the pyrex. Now pour salt over them until they are mostly covered, then place into the oven for an hour and a half.What happens during this time is the beets are lightly steamed, giving them a super-soft texture.Once the roasting is done, allow them to rest until cool enough to handle. Using a sharp knife if needed, peel the beets and set aside. It’s easiest to do this while the beets are warm.
- Dice the beets as uniform and small as possible. Place into a bowl. Give the minced shallots a little saute in a lightly oiled pan, then add to the beets.
Make the marinade
- Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together. If you have a little more or a little less than 2 cups of beets, just adjust the marinade components accordingly. Pour over the beets, cover, and place into the refrigerator overnight at the least and up to two days for the best flavor and texture.
To make the mango yolks
- Pour three cups of cold water into a large measuring glass cup. Add in the sodium alginate and, using an immersion blender at its highest speed, blend for a full two minutes. Set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the air bubbles to settle.
- Combine the mango puree with the vegan yogurt and calcium lactate. Stir well by hand and set aside.
- Find a drinking glass with a circular base, no more than 2-3 inches in diameter. Pour a very small amount of the sodium alginate mixture into the bottom of the glass. Then spoon a little less than one tablespoon into the glass. It has to be dropped carefully and in one shot to achieve a perfect yolk shape. Now, tip the glass to a 45-degree angle, then very slowly pour more solution over the top until it’s covered, then slowly raise it back up to a 90-degree level (sort of like pouring a beer carefully into a glass). Now swirl the yolk around in a circular motion for about 30 seconds to create the yolk shape. Set it down and leave it undisturbed for about two minutes.
- By now, the yolk should be very sturdy. Rinse it off under cold water or place it into a bowl of cold water while you make the rest of the yolks.
To toast the walnuts
- Preheat a small cast iron pan over medium heat. Add in the walnuts, and allow to toast for a few minutes giving them a shake every now and then. They are done when you can smell them, and they’ve developed a little color. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
- Place one or two tablespoons of vegan sour cream onto a plate, smeared over a toasted crostini or on the side. Spoon the desired amount of beets over the top, topping with the toasted walnuts and minced kale. Finish with a mango yolk.