The carpaccio goes beyond beef
Some restaurants are institutions in their cities; then there is Harrys Bar in Venice which was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 2001. Harrys Bar,run by the Cipriani family,is popularly credited with the invention of the Bellini and the Carpaccio. The original version was a beef Carpaccio and that is the version you are most likely to encounter.
Carpaccio is normally an appetiser; it comprises of thinly sliced meat or seafood dressed in a vinaigrette or plain olive oil. Carpaccio is an excellent appetiser as it whets the appetite and doesnt kill hunger. A good carpaccio has subtle flavor which I find refreshing, says Riyaaz Amlani who runs Mocha,delItalia and the newly opened Salt Water Café.
The simplicity of the dish has allowed it to be absorbed on the menu of restaurants that are not Italian. One of the best examples is Wasabi at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower; in addition to the excellent beef carpaccio,they also serve a divine Salmon Carpaccio. Being a salmon aficionado,I can say its easily the best salmon preparation Ive had in this city. The simple,tangy sauce keeps the taste of the fish intact,while adding to the dish as a whole, says salmon enthusiast Rachna Agarwal.
Not to be left behind,delItalia in Juhu serves an Octopus Carpaccio with fennel seed vinaigrette. Celini at the Grand Hyatt serves a Tuna Carpaccio with red onion,white beans and potato in lemon dressing. Tuna is high in Myoglobin,a protein which gives tuna its color as well as its high oxygen as myoglobin binds with oxygen, says Executive Sous Chef of Grand Hyatt,Kedar Bobde. Tuna is the meat of the seafood business,it is high in fat like meat and therefore is suited to a carpaccio or a steak, says Executive Chef of Intercontinental,Marine Drive,Amit Bhardwaj. Although Corleone at the Intercontinental has only a tenderloin carpaccio permanently on the menu,Bhardwaj has had zucchini,tuna and even scallop carpaccio on his special menus.
Just in case the vegetarians felt left out,restaurants in Mumbai have quite innovatively used vegetables instead of meat or seafood,with spectacular results. For example,Indigo serves a Beet Carpaccio with vanilla dressing which cleverly resembles a beef carpaccio in appearance due to its crimson hue. Being a vegetarian,I had always wanted to try a carpaccio since my husband keeps raving about the beef carpaccio all the time. I like the complex,but pretty stunning Zucchini Carpaccio at Olive. It has a layer of finely chopped tomato,capers,olives,basil,garlic and grated parmesan which adds flavor to the zucchini, says homemaker Kiran Mehta. She also recommends trying the Tofu Carpaccio or the Apple Tomato Carpaccio at Wasabi. They all offer you a slice of heaven.
For beef carpaccio,Intercontinentals Amit Bhardwaj says the first step is to marinate the beef with balsamic,sea salt,herbs and black pepper for two hours. Optionally,one can sear the block of beef on a large pan to seal the natural juices of the meat.
After this,the meat is required to be refrigerated for an hour-and-half to cool it. The next step is to smear the meat with herbs to give it a crust of sorts,and also adds subtle flavour. The block of beef can now be cling-wrapped and frozen,to be sliced easily into thin slivers. Defrosting isnt required as it warms up to room temperature immediately. Add vinaigrette and serve.