Gourmet Secrets by Karen Anand: Caring for the carpaccio
How the rustic caveman’s food transformed into a delicacy served at Michelin star restaurantsUpdated: Jul 20, 2019, 20:16 IST
I’ve always found the ritual of eating raw meat and fish a bit primitive but pure in a sense. Early cavemen ate their meat raw. We started cooking for hygiene reasons to kill bacteria. Dishes of raw meat like Steak Tartare, they say, came about because the meat available to the Tartars, camel or horse probably, needed to be very finely chopped to render them edible. So Steak Tartare is thought to have originated in Mongolia and by the late 19th century had made its way to America via the Russians and then northern Europeans who used the port of Hamburg to get to America. Many people think Steak Tartare is a French dish but it is one of those rare things that probably came back to Paris via America in the early 20th century. The “Hamburg steak” became popular on the menus of many restaurants in New York. It was made from beef filet, hand chopped, lightly salted and often smoked, and usually served raw in a dish along with onions and bread crumbs. It was also used for feeding patients in hospitals and was accompanied by a raw egg.
In Paris in the early twentieth century, “steak tartare”, was called steak à l’Americaine. One variation on that dish included serving it with tartar sauce, a sauce made with chopped gherkins and capers. The 1921 edition of Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire defines “Steack à la tartare” as steack à l’Americaine served with tartar sauce on the side. It was later shorted to “steak tartare”. The 1938 edition of Larousse Gastronomique describes steak tartare as raw ground beef served with a raw egg yolk, without any mention of tartar sauce.
When in Venice
Not so far away in Venice, Giuseppe Cipriani invented another raw beef dish, one that has become one of Venice’s most famous culinary gifts to the world of cuisine, Carpaccio. The story goes that one of the regular customers at Harry’s Bar during the 1950s was Amalia Nani Mocenigo, a lady from the highest ranks of the Venetian nobility. Her doctor had prescribed a diet, rich in raw meat to counter slight anemia. Giuseppe (the very same man who invented the famous sparkling peach cocktail from Venice, the Bellini) created a unique dish of quite elegant simplicity consisting of wafer thin slices of raw fillet steak in a sauce of mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcester sauce, cream, salt and white pepper. An exhibition of the works of the Renaissance Venetian artist Vittore Carpaccio, a painter famous for his brilliant reds, was taking place in the city at that time and it was decided to name the dish after him. Some also say that Amalia saw his paintings in a museum from her bedroom window…
As you like it
Today Carpaccio has many versions; with a simple dressing of lemon and shaved Parmesan or with a mustardy vinaigrette and arugula salad leaves. I’ve even had and subsequently made a lavish version with shaved black truffles. Whatever the dressing and the version and in whichever part of the world, Carpaccio must always have the best slightly marbled, filet of beef cut wafer thin and served with shavings of the best Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
I had almost forgotten what the original Venetian version tasted like till I happened to be invited to lunch by an old friend in Venice recently at the very very swish Aman. It seems to be “the address” to stay at in Venice, with just 24 rooms and suites right on the Grand Canal. It is so discreet that unless you arrive by private boat, it’s a tough task to find the entrance! The interiors are very impressive. This is a 16th century palazzo or palace, fully restored in the neo Renaissance and Roccoco styles; original art from the 16th to the 18th centuries, dazzling gold cladding and did I mention the original Giovanni Tiepolo ceilings (painted while he lived here in the 18th century)? It’s all a bit over the top but it works. A Michelin star chef mentors the cuisine and of course Carpaccio is on the menu. This one has a smear of Hollandaise sauce on the base, perfectly sliced filet and so generous an amount of Parmigiano Reggiano shavings on top that you almost miss the meat.
It’s the perfect place to enjoy Carpaccio, as you gaze aimlessly onto the Grand Canal. This is what you come to Venice for and the Aman delivers the experience. Here’s their recipe.
120gr beef fillet
50ml white wine
6 egg yolks
150g clarified butter
Braise the shallots and the wine together until fully cooked, then add egg yolk, lime, salt, water, mustard and blend it into the thermomixer for 6 mins at 60 degrees celsius, then add the melted butter and blend it for 4 more minutes.
Then add the mixture into the siphon and shake it.
Place the hollandaise on the bottom of the dish and cover it up with the carpaccio previously made. Season it with Maldon salt, pepper, olive oil and parmesan shavings.
Author Bio: Culinary expert and explorer Karen Anand has been writing extensively on the subject of food and wine for 30 years. Apart from having her own brand of gourmet food products, she has anchored top rated TV shows, run a successful chain of food stores, founded the hugely successful Farmers Markets, and worked as restaurant consultant for international projects, among other things. Her latest passion is food tours, a totally curated experience which Karen herself accompanies, the first of which was to Italy.
This is a fortnightly column. The next edition will appear on August 4.
From HT Brunch, July 21, 2019
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch