What is Carpaccio and How to Eat it
If you are familiar with Italian cuisine, then you may already know about carpaccio. Originally served as an appetizer among the mid-twentieth century Venetian nobles, this dish is now widely known for its versatile usage in contemporary delicacy. Due to its exquisite texture packed with bold flavors, carpaccio is considered as a healthy and delicious meal option for brunches or appetizers.
What is Carpaccio
Created by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1950, carpaccio is an Italian starter dish that emphasizes on the individual flavors of the quality products. Traditionally, a layer of raw sliced beef with capers and onions on the side completes the dish.
The main attraction of this classic appetizer lies in its delicate cooking techniques. The shavings of raw meat is kept ultra-thin in an almost see-through manner, which helps the dish to maintain its unique flavor regardless of the lacking of spices.
Another noteworthy aspect of this dish is its vibrant visual that glorifies the redness of the meat. Considering this factor, it does not come as a surprise that the dish gained its name after the famous Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio who is known for his usage of bright red color palettes.
As for the dish itself, in recent times, carpaccio is considered more than a quick and simple dish that centers around beef only. It is also prepared with other proteins like lamb, venison, veal or even seafood like tuna, salmon, etc. Vegetarian options for this dish can also be found, especially with artichoke, fennel or any vegetable that deserves some creativity on it.
What is the Main Ingredient in Carpaccio
The main ingredient of a carpaccio dish is thinly sliced raw meat. While beef is the most commonly used ingredient for this recipe, one may also go for similarly textured proteins. In order to prepare the beef or any other protein, it is often recommended that the meat should be slightly frozen so that it is easier to carve into desired sizes.
How to Prepare Carpaccio
There are a number of ways to prepare carpaccio. Regardless of the method, any excess fat from the meat must be removed beforehand. Then it has to be seasoned with salt and pepper, and some fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, tarragon, etc. Many chefs also use a small amount of balsamic vinegar to accentuate the flavor.
Once the meat is nicely coated with spices and herbs, it is wrapped in plastic and chilled for 8-12 hours. When it gains a firmer texture, it is all ready to be prepared into a delicious carpaccio dish.
The traditional method of beef carpaccio requires frozen beef tenderloin or beef sirloin, a razor-sharp slicing knife and a concentrated carving skill. However, those who are willing to prepare the dish with lesser amount of attention, can slice the fillet as thin as possible, and then hammer it between sheets of cling film.
Alternatively, an electric meat-slicer can also be used if the dish is prepared in a larger batch. Depending on personal preference, one can choose a particular method and make carpaccio at home.
After the meat is sliced and neatly arranged on the plate, it can be topped with some fresh salad and dressing. The most common ingredients to go with this dish are capers, onion slices, watercress and rocket. Very often, shavings of Parmesan cheese are also scattered on top. To bind the whole flavor together, drizzles of olive oil, lemon juice or mayonnaise, vinaigrette and at times, a mustard dressing is lightly spread all over the meat and veggies.
For the first-timers who are still hesitant to try the raw meat, the fillet can be crusted with simple seasonings like peppercorns and lightly seared before carving into slices. The meat is less vibrant in this process but is better for introducing to picky eaters.
Carpaccio Recipe Varieties
The classic carpaccio recipe is all about beef but one can also try out other variations that focus on different proteins or vegetables, such as:
- Lamb Carpaccio: In this recipe, the meat must be of highest quality as it will be eaten raw. Once the lamb fillet is prepared and sliced for the dish, it is served with a simple sauce made with garlic, egg yolks, olive oil, capers and lime juice. Chopped olives and fresh fig slices on the side also complement the rich, meaty flavor of the lamb carpaccio.
- Seafood Carpaccio: For a seafood carpaccio, it is better to use fish that are used for making sushi. Tuna and salmon are commonly used in this recipe with a slight alteration in the preparation process. Instead of olive oil and lemon, this dish usually comes with jalapeño slices and soy dipping sauce.
- Vegetable Carpaccio: Vegetable carpaccio does not require any specific vegetable. Brightly colored vegetables like beetroot, artichokes, carrots, radishes, turnips, etc. are usually used in a vegetable carpaccio recipe. Once the veggies are thinly sliced, they are marinated with ingredients like vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, etc. This dish is usually served with roasted nuts and freshly baked bread slices.
How to Eat Carpaccio
Many people who are willing to try the dish for the first time, may wonder about the proper eating method. The truth, in fact, is that there is no specific eating procedure for carpaccio as it mostly depends on individual preference. Many diners like to squeeze an extra amount of lemon juice over the meat to ‘cook’ it. While it is very traditional for the carpaccio to have olive oil in it, many chefs like to avoid using it during the preparation and serve it separately.
Usually, carpaccio is served with fresh Foccacia or ciabatta bread. The bread and the meat can be eaten together or separately. Usually, a slice of meat is placed on a chunk of bread and eaten with a forkful of salad afterward.
Carpaccio is a widely celebrated Italian cuisine that is prepared with raw beef, a selection of vegetables and salad dressing. Due to the impressive delicacy of the dish, it also comes with many varieties that contain various protein and vegetarian options and is served as an excellent lunchtime starter dish.