A ‘Carpaccio’, most commonly made using beef, can actually consist of raw slices of almost any meat or fish and, as such, can probably be considered as Italy’s answer to Sashimi. Occasionally, raw slices of beef are passed quickly under a broiler to add a little color before being served with a dressing and other accompaniments, and sometimes one finds recipes where the original piece of beef, or what have you, is seared lightly before being sliced. In this regard, preparations of this sort are much more like the Japanese Tataki… Today, I am putting together a little appetizer that builds on the basic theme by first searing the meat in a spicy crust…
- 1/2lb. Beef , trimmed to a neat rectangle;
- 1 tsp. each of Fennel Seed, Black Peppercorns and Black Mustard Seed;
- ½ tsp. each of Coriander Seed, dried Thyme and Salt;
- ¼ tsp. Celery Seed;
- 5 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil;
- ¾ tsp. Basil Puree;
- ¾ tsp. Garlic Puree;
- 1 tbsp. Capers;
- 4 tbsp. Shaved Parmesan;
- Vegetable Garnish*
- A lot of presentations use Mesclun Mix or another selection of greens as a garnish but I have chosen a mix of my Sweet Onion Shreds and slivers of red bell pepper that I first salted and then rinsed before adding a tiny splash of vinegar. Feel free to add any other garnish that suits your taste;
First, coarsely grind the spices together with the salt to make a ‘gritty’ mix rather than a powder. Use this mix to coat the beef on all sides, including the ends, pressing the mix well into the meat to form a coat. You probably won’t use the entire spice blend but it is better to have a little extra rather than run out. Place the mea into the refrigerator to chill.
Now heat a little oil in a pan over moderate heat and lightly sear all surfaces of the spice-coated meat for about ten seconds or so. For Tataki, one would use a very high heat but here we don’t want to make the spices burn.
As soon as the meat has cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it back into the refrigerator overnight to allow the spice flavor to infuse the meat.
Before slicing the meat, you may wish to pop it into the freezer for about 20 minutes or so to make it nice and firm. While this is happening, you can mix together the oil, basil, garlic and capers to make the drizzling sauce.
Now slice the mea into paper thin pieces and then arrange attractively on a serving platter. Place the vegetable garnish at the center and then drizzle with the oil mix and finally op with the shaved cheese. Serve with crusty bread and butter or crostini, if you prefer.
Last December, I had a lovely Beef Carpaccio at Fresco Bistro Italiano in Ottawa which was terrific. Unfortunately, this effort, I am afraid to say, wasn’t quite as good as theirs (although I should add that my wife liked it a lot more than I did).One criticism I had was that the spices were just a bit too sharp and the result would have been better if he crust was brushed off before slicing. I also was a bit underwhelmed with the dressing and I think the lemon aioli in Fresco’s version worked much better. Still, overall this wasn’t bad…