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Carpaccio From A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Carpaccio From A to Z: 26 Things to Know

From beef to octopus, vegetables to fruit: a closer look at carpaccio, a versatile dish usually prepared with meat or fish consumed raw, cut into fine slices.

By FDL on

Arugula. The various types of meat typically prepared as carpaccio are often served on a bed of greens: the most common of these is rocket owing to its pungent peppery flavour, but radicchio, endive and watercress are commonly used as an alternative.

Beef. Beef consumed raw, cut into fine slices and dressed. Protein is the distinctive element of carpaccio: it must be of good quality, fresh and never defrosted, as well as being attentively selected to avoid health risks. But in the course of time, carpaccio has also become a way of serving fish (tuna and swordfish, as well as prawns, salmon and sea bass) or even certain types of cheese such as scamorza.

Chives. A tasty variation on the theme: carpaccio is enhanced by the addition of chives, a perfect flavouring for raw fish-based dishes.

Dijon. In the many different versions of this recipe, Dijon mustard also makes its appearance. Another strong flavour for accompanying raw meat can be that of Worcester sauce.

Elephant. Carpaccio Even an elephant can be finely sliced as carpaccio: this saying, often applied to work situations, has nothing to do with cooking but means that even a huge project can be successfully completed if it is divided up into simpler and smaller tasks.

Fruit. Carpaccio is a fashionable recipe that now involves any type of food, including fruit. It may sound like nonsense because fruit is mainly eaten raw anyway but, in this case, it refers to the way in which it is finely sliced.

Giuseppe Cipriani. Seven restaurants in the world bear his name, from Miami to Venice, the city in which the first one was opened in the mid twentieth century and in whose kitchen carpaccio was created: the idea was conceived by its founder, Giuseppe Cipriani himself.

Harry's Bar. Giuseppe Cipriani was also the founder of the mythical Harry's Bar in Venice, a small venue where some of the world’s most famous cocktails were invented, such as the Bellini, and where an international clientele (comprising Hemingway and Orson Welles) used to order their dish of carpaccio.

Ingredients. Five ingredients are needed to make the original recipe published in The Harry's Bar Cookbook: very fine slices of sirloin served with a sauce of mayonnaise, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, and milk (seasoned with salt and white pepper).

Julienne. In the many variations on the original recipe, vegetables now play a leading role, with one thing in common: they are all cut into very thin slices or julienned.

Kandinsky. Even though carpaccio owes its name to the artist Vittore Carpaccio, who used warm shades of yellow and red in his paintings, the sauce served with it is often called after another great artist, Kandinsky: in fact it is splattered onto the meat in such a way as to resemble an abstract painting.

Lemon. One of the key ingredients of carpaccio is lemon, used to flavour the meat: its juice is added to the mayonnaise based sauce. However, the sauce must not be added to the meat too soon since this would cause it to marinate and taste “cooked”.

Michelin. Carpaccio is one of the starters most dear to Michelin-starred chefs who, in the wake of Cipriani, have studied thousands of variations on the theme, especially those contemplating the use of fish fillets. Carpaccio is also the name of a well-known Italian restaurant in Paris, awarded by the Michelin guide.

Nani Mocenigo. It is said that carpaccio owes its origins to a noblewoman. Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo, a client of Cipriani in Venice, who ordered a plate of raw meat for health reasons. Hence the creation of the first dish of carpaccio.

Octopus. One carpaccio recipe goes under this name but it is actually cooked: its meat is octopus flesh which is first boiled and then cut into fine slices, before being dressed with oil, lemon, salt and herbs.

Parmesan. Parmesan flakes have become synonymous with carpaccio the world over. Arranged on top of the meat and its sauce, they add their rich umami taste to the flavour of beef and veal.

Quinoa If you like cooking, here is an idea for a starter that is both unusual and creative: serve the fish or meat carpaccio as finger food accompanied by a little salad of quinoa with slivers of almonds.

Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, the artist who gave his name to the dish, was a Renaissance artist from Venice. His name inspired Cipriani owing to the way he used the colours of red and yellow on his distinctive canvasses.

Sirloin. Fillet and sirloin are the two beef cuts most suitable for making carpaccio.

Tartare. Other dishes are frequently confused with carpaccio: tartare, for instance, also calls for the use of raw meat or fish but, in this case, it is finely diced and served with a sauce. In Alba, in the region of Piedmont, there is a famous dish of knife-cut raw meat.

Umeboshi. A few drops of umeboshi vinegar, the typical Japanese plum-based seasoning, is the ingredient used by many Asian chefs specialized in vegetarian cuisine to dress vegetable carpaccio dishes. It is a very salty seasoning commonly used instead of soy sauce.

Vegetables. There is a carpaccio for every season, at least in the vast vegetable kingdom. Even vegetables that are normally eaten cooked may be turned into an excellent raw carpaccio when finely sliced. From courgettes to pumpkin, from aubergines to mushrooms, they are prepared in the same way as any meat carpaccio: served with the dressing and herbs of your choice, they are to be eaten cold.

White truffle. The most gourmet carpaccio of them all replaces Parmesan flakes with fine slivers of white truffle served on top of the beef.

Xtravirgin. The basic ingredient of Kandinsky sauce, vinaigrette, mayonnaise and any other condiment used for carpaccio is oil, the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. Nothing but extra virgin olive oil, of course.

Yuppies. In the eighties, among the Italian yuppies (young urban professional) who worked in Milan, carpaccio or “carpaccino” was the emblematic dish of a quick gourmet lunch, which set them aside from the masses who ate traditional dishes or fast food.

Zero point one. From a minimum of 0.1 to a maximum of 0.4 millimetres: this is the ideal thickness of a slice of fish or meat carpaccio. The finer it is, the more delicate its taste will be.

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