Is kitfo safe to eat?

I live in an area with a lot of Ethiopian restaurants. I’m not picky about food and my girlfriend likes it so, among other types of places, we frequent the Ethiopian joints occasionally.

Most of these places seem clean and the food is always good, and some, not all, of them offer kitfo, which for the uninitiated is a kind of spicy steak tartare. I’m always curious about it but I’m a little apprehensive to order it. I have no trouble eating sushi or a steak cooked super-rare, but I’ve never had completely raw red meat before.

Anyone have any experiences with this dish they can share?

Nothing to really share other than I’ve had kitfo and gored gored (and steak tartare and carpaccio) and I’ve survived with nary a problem. They’re good although I prefer Special Tibbs. Either way, you’ll be fine.

A long as they are grinding fresh meat, and not buying pre-ground meat and serving it raw, it isn’t very problematic. Bad germs only live on the surface of the meat (I believe they need air) the problem with factory ground meat is the amount of surface area it has, and the way there is air throughout, allows extremely fast proliferation of baddies.

Then again, I have the digestion of a goat, and have on at least one occasion only suffered a 1/2 hour of “odd-feeling tummy” when other dining companions experienced full-on food poisoning from eating the same food, so, maybe you shouldn’t take my advice.

I’m not positive, as I have never had kifto, but I think it is traditional to sometimes quickly sear or cook this tartare on the outside, still leaving it very very rare or raw inside. And that is really no different than a very rare steak… but either way, totally raw or lightly seared I would have no compunctions about eating it.

How could you find out if they remove the outer layer of a solid cut of meat and then grind it themselves? I would not eat it unless I knew for sure, but I live where there was a huge outbreak of e. Coli and people died. You could try asking the public health restaurant inspection division and asking them. Or PM the SMDB board member Rafe Hollister who did this thread on being a restaurant inspector.

The traditional way to prepare it is by taking steak or a similar cut of beef and chopping it by hand (knife), coarsely, rather than grinding it. Then they mix it with the spicy chile paste/spices known as Mitmita. You would be able to tell by the texture immediately if it has been mill ground or hand chopped, of course in a restaurant in the U.S. they might grind it to be more “refined”, in the US restaurant sense. If it is hand chopped fresh, I imagine that would make a difference in bacterial mitigation.

…Of course the chile and other spices in the mitmita might have some inherent antiseptic properties, to a degree. It isn’t total, but it might retard bacterial growth in the short term. Not to mention the preservative powers of ghee.

I do not think this is accurate. I wouldn’t bet my liver on it.

Well, lets see- mitmita has chile, cardamom, clove (the oil of which is a common antiseptic), and salt.

That sounds like any sausage mix, and especially in combination with fat… salt, fat, and spices are the preservatives of meat in all cuisine.

Yes, but as far as its abilities to render e. coli non-deadly, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Ummm… what does that mean. Yea, I guess I can’t render e-coli non deadly, but it has nothing to do with what I just said… On simple grounds all of the reasons I have given vouching for ktfo have proven its safety and really the preperation of this dish is wrapped up in pre-servation in a natural way… Hell, I’d eat raw kfto from the worst Ethiopian Restaurant over a corporate/commercial processed, cooked, hamburger from a factory anyday…

I ordered a plate of kitfo at an Ethiopian restaurant in Vancouver in the early 1990s, one night when I was dining alone.

The waiter did everything he could to dissuade me from ordering this dish.

“It’s not cooked! You won’t eat it.”

I explained that I always ordered my steak “blue,” and was quite comfortable with the idea. (I had an idea at the time that it was easier to digest.)

“No, you don’t understand - it isn’t cooked. It’s a plate of raw beef!”

“Yes, I get it - it’s cured with citrus and spiced. Sounds perfect; I love civiche, and it’s the same principle.”

“Just beef, though!”

“I love beef.”

“Well… okay, then. But I’ve warned you.”

However, when the dish arrived, I observed something the waiter had neglected to mention, and which would have been a much more dissuasive point: this dish was clearly prepared with the decidely non-Steppenwolfish nature of the culture of Ethiopin cuisine: it wasn’t a plate, it was a platter - a dish intended to be shared by a group of four or more, as part of a more varied meal. I was looking at about (easily) three pounds of meat, served over a thin layer of injera. Oh, shit.

I was committed, now. I have a stubborn nature, which the many woo-woo hippie-dippy new age types have attributed to the accident of my birth in the House of Scorpio, but which I think is more plausibly explained by the fact that I’m the immediate descendent of another stubborn bastard. (My all-over-mystical acquaintances would no doubt make much of the additional accident that he was also a scorpio.)

Happily, I brought a book – and even more serendipitously ( being in my mid-twenties,) I had affected a pretentious habit of rereading James Joyce’s Ulysses every spring, so I was set.

It was good. A very nice dish, and spicy enough that I was glad of the lager to wash it down. I would recommend it to anyone, but maybe not in that quantity.

I think it took me about an hour an a half to get through, and I was sweating and uncomfortable for almost half of that.

Immediately after than, I was vegetarian for almost a decade.

I had it once or twice at Ethiopian restaurants when I lived in Washington DC in the late 1980s. It was fine, and as I recall quite tasty. If you like very rare steak, then I don’t think you would have a problem with it.

Cool. Well I believe next time we go I shall give it a try.

BTW, in case my profile name doesn’t make it obvious, I live in DC(well, Takoma Park to be exact). Got a favorite spot?

Here’s the questions you need to ask yourself. Would I eat steak tartare from the local French Bistro/Restaurant? Would I eat tuna tartare, or a tuna tartare spicy roll or handwrap from my local Pan-Asian or Sushi place?

Why is African Tartare any different? Am I a food bigot?

Curious you seem to believe there is some strange racist element to this. There’s not.

I am very familiar with sushi and the processes and precautions that make raw fish safely edible, and enjoy it often.

I am not familiar with such things when it comes to not rare but completely raw red meat. Hence the question.

As far a Ethiopian restaurants, I would recommend Almaz, Etete, or Dukem. They all have their positives and negatives, but I would say the food at Almaz is the best, but the atmosphere is kinda crappy.

I have had raw kitfo in most of the Ethiopian restaurants in DC, as well as a half dozen other cities in the US and have never had a problem. Yes, some places do it better than others, and I have my favourites, but that’s another story.
For peace of mind, eat at busy establishments, that way you know the food is fresher.
Also don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant to explain where they source the beef, how they process it, and anything else you want to know.
Ethiopians and Eritreans know the dish is not typical American fare and will almost try to talk you out of ordering it sometimes. With that mindset, I don’t think they will try to hide anything from you in terms of making sure you know what you’re getting.