How to eat Raw Meat like an Ethiopian (Kitfo)

If one must eat meat raw it is surely best done in this way, for the sauce gives the impression of being hot enough to cook the meat right on the tongue.

– Laurens Van Der Post (as quoted in Ethiopia, Cultures of the World by Steven Gish, Winnie Thai, and Zawiah Latif)

Van Der Post is talking about an Ethiopian raw beef dish called kitfo (kit-foh).  The sauce is made almost entirely of berberé – the crazy, smoke alarm hot spice blend we made recently – as well as lemon juice and a buttery-good mixture of sautéed peppers, onions, ginger, garlic, and cardamom. And, of course, raw beef.

Now, for the moment of truth… would you eat it? Why or why not?

Photo: Diádoco


  1. Mette says

    I would definitely try. I eat carpaccio, sushi and ceviche, so why not kitfo?

  2. …not even sushi would entice me…except… don’t know what I would do stranded on a mountaintop after a plane crash and there was no rescue in sight and no survivors except me and the only option was canabalism….aaarrrggghhh…..

  3. I LOVE raw beef. However, and I voted that I loved it but really it was more like “like”, it was a bit too much just a giant pile of raw beef for my tastes. It needed toasts and accoutrements, like steak tartare (or the Ethiopian equivalent lol).

    • Sasha Martin says

      I suppose the toast would be swapped with injera … it would be interesting, that’s for sure!

  4. John Varner says

    I love tartare and carpaccio and when I eat a steak at a restaurant I want it as close to raw as the cook is legally allowed to give it to me. Kitfo sounds awesome.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I’ve come a long way in regards to rare meat – my first experience was days after moving to France. The filet mignon was so rare it looked like it was going to jump up off of the plate. I really didn’t want to try it, but – when I did – I was amazed at how tender and flavorful it was. Looks can really get in the way of great taste experiences.

  5. Nomadsheart says

    I have had it several times and it is very good….I am a fan of the very spicy, however, and surprised my hosts by adding additional berbere and diced chilis…..

  6. Paula says

    I worry about parasites in raw meat, but that’s probably what the spices are there for! Nature’s cleanser. 🙂

    • George says

      Spices are antibacterial and possibly antiparasitic. The butter opsonizes (coats) all surfaces and prevents rapid degradation in quality through oxidation. If concerned about parasites, take green black walnut hull extract, no worries. Best damn treat to strengthen the body long term, next to beef bone broth, but you may need a nap afterwards!

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