Master Class: No matter how you slice it

Invented in Venice in 1950, carpaccio is now prepared in many different variations. Try these recipes, courtesy of the owners of the Carpaccio Bar in Tel Aviv.

Carpaccio dish 311 (photo credit: Boaz Lavi)
Carpaccio dish 311
(photo credit: Boaz Lavi)
Carpaccio was invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, where it was first served to Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo in 1950 when she informed the bar owner that her doctor had recommended she eat only raw meat. The dish he served her consisted of thin slices of raw beef dressed with a mustard sauce.
The dish was named carpaccio by the owner of the bar, Giuseppe Cipriani, in reference to the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, because the colors of the dish reminded him of paintings by the artist. The term is now used to refer to the preparation of meat, fish or vegetables served raw and sliced thinly. Some restaurants have taken to calling any dish of thinly sliced food “carpaccio.”
Special attention is paid to matching the aromas of the seasoning and the salad leaves or other garnishes served on top of the meat. Although the dish is considered sophisticated, preparing carpaccio at home is not too difficult, and the result is very impressive.
Brothers Yotam and Assaf Doctor opened the Carpaccio Bar in Tel Aviv five years ago. The bar offers a small menu of carpaccio dishes, as well as a few sandwiches, salads and interesting sweet fruit carpaccio desserts.
Assaf, the chef, says that carpaccio is ideal for the Israeli climate because the dish is fresh and light. “I believe it is suitable for every meal. The thin meat allows for endless variations and therefore is never boring.”
For one 25-cm diameter plate: 60 to 70 gr. fresh beef, clean and with no fat. Best cuts are filet, entrecote, sirloin and rump (“shaitel”).
Slice beef thinly – about 4 mm. thin – and form a round layer of slices on a sheet of plastic wrap. Place slices very close together, forming a circle half the diameter of the serving plate. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap and pound gently with the smooth side of a wooden meat pounder until meat is thinner and the size of a larger circle. Carefully peel the top layer of the plastic wrap and flip the meat onto a serving plate. Peel off the plastic, and the carpaccio is almost done.
Use only as much as needed to coat all the meat but do not use too much. This is the secret of a good carpaccio. Do not drown the meat or fish with the dressing.
Another must is the order of seasoning. Always sprinkle the lemon or vinegar first to allow for a short “pickling” process to begin. Then season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients.
Use any quality oil, any vinegar or aromatic herbs as far as your inventiveness will take you. Do not add too much, and leave room for the main substance.
The classic Italian carpaccio is served with Parmesan cheese slivers and arugula leaves. But you can omit cheese and replace it with some lemon zest.
✔ 1 plate of beef carpaccio ✔ 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Salt and freshly ground pepper ✔ Bunch arugula leaves ✔ Lemon zest ✔ Pine nuts
Sprinkle balsamic vinegar evenly. You can also rub the vinegar on the meat with the back of a tablespoon to ensure an even coating.
Use the same method to spread the oil. Make sure there are no “puddles.”
Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lemon zest and pine nuts.
In a separate bowl, season arugula with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil. Create a loose ball of leaves between your palms and place in the center of the plate. Serve immediately. If you wait between preparing and serving, the dressing will overpower the meat and the freshness will be lost.
✔ 1 plate of prepared lamb carpaccio. Use fat-free lamb sirloin. Can use beef as well.✔ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Leaves from 1 mint sprig, torn by hand ✔ 4 green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped ✔ Black pepper
✔ Coarse salt ✔ Sumac
Drizzle meat with lemon juice evenly. Drizzle oil the same way. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle sumac. Garnish with mint leaves and olives. Serve immediately.
✔ 1 plate prepared beef carpaccio ✔ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 Tbsp. good-quality unprepared tehina ✔ 1 tsp. lemon zest ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Small bunch watercress or arugula leaves ✔ Black pepper ✔ Coarse salt ✔ Cumin ✔ Pine nuts
Drizzle meat with lemon juice evenly. Drizzle stripes of tehina using a teaspoon or knife. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Tear leaves by hand and place over meat. Garnish with lemon zest, nuts and finish with a drizzle of oil. Serve.
✔ 1 large beetroot, peeled ✔ 1⁄2 cup sherry vinegar
✔ 5 Tbsp. truffle oil or herb/spice-infused oil ✔ 3 Tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds
✔ 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Slice beetroot as thinly as you can (use a mandolin slicer). Place the slices in a flat dish in one layer and pour vinegar. Leave the beetroot in the vinegar for 5 minutes. Drain and dry the slices. Arrange the beetroot slices on a serving plate, drizzle with a little truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the seeds and cheese slivers on top.
✔ 150 gr. peeled and seeded pumpkin ✔ Juice of 1 lemon ✔ 1 buffalo mozzarella cheese ball, crumbled by hand into small pieces ✔ 1 bunch basil leaves ✔ Olive oil ✔ 1 Tbsp. nigella ✔ Salt and pepper
Slice the pumpkin very thinly (2 mm). Place the slices in a flat dish. Sprinkle salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cover with parchment paper and place another dish on top as a press. After 5 minutes, remove the pumpkin slices and dry thoroughly. Arrange on a serving plate, drizzle oil and sprinkle with basil, cheese and nigella seeds.