Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beef Carpaccio Vietnamese Style - A Stunning Starter

This is such a stunner to kick-off a meal in style - beef carpaccio. Read What is carpaccio and who is Carpaccio? Many people are put off by its rawness and the colour, so this is definitely not one for the faint-hearted. I would serve this only to myself and my hubster lest I be blamed for any weak guts! I've researched enough to give me the confidence that beef, at its freshest and bestest, can be eaten raw.

I stumbled upon this recipe from The Ravenous Couple, a second-generation immigrant Vietnamese-American family. Below is my recipe adapted from their site. But first, a word on lean protein.

Most beef we eat today, no thanks to commercialisation, are high in fat content. Based on my reading, it seems few cows today get to eat grass throughout their entire lives. What I thought was the norm has become the exception. I read about the benefits of grass-fed cows vs grain-fed and am convinced I need to go for the best, especially in carpaccio.

This beautiful piece of beef tenderloin (most suitable for carpaccio) is very smooth and clear, with little marbling because there is little fats in it.

Yes, somewhat pricey you may say at S$62.00 per kilogram but I would rather spend money on good food than on medical costs. Let food be your medicine.

Here's the recipe and method I used:

182g beef tenderloin (Use only premium meat. Buy from a reliable source and buy only on the day you serve the dish.)
Toasted peanuts, 2 handfuls
Fresh shallots, 5-6 small ones
Fried shallots, 2-3 Tbsp
A bunch of herbs (I used coriander and basil)
Juice from half a lemon
Juice from one lime (see how I cut my lime to get maximum juice)
Sugar, 1 Tbsp
Fish sauce, 1 Tbsp
Fresh chilli or chilli flakes, to taste

All my fresh ingredients - I like freshness to be the hallmark of my food.

1. Did I say, Buy only premium beef tenderloin?
2. Freeze the beef for about half an hour so that it is easier to slice thinly, or get your butcher to do it for you.
3. Squeeze lemon and lime juice into sliced beef pieces. Add sugar and mix well. Cling-wrap and store in the fridge for 2-3 hours. The citrus juices will cure or cook the meat. Stir and mix again after an hour.
4. Toast peanuts in a dry hot pan. We call this dry fry.
5. Fry some shallots or get ready-made ones if you are feeling lazy.
6. After 2-3 hours, the meat turns a dull pink. Drain the meat and squeeze the liquids out.
7. Rinse bowl and return meat to bowl. Add fish sauce and mix well.
8. Prepare the rest of the garnishes. Slice fresh shallots, shred some herbs.
9. Lay the beef slices out in a single layer on a large plate and sprinkle garnishes all over. Add chilli flakes or fresh chilli for colour and kick.

How it looks before going into the chiller. (I chopped up the coriander stalks and threw them in as I found its garden-fresh smell irresistible.)
And three hours later. It looks more cooked than medium rare!

Isn't this absolutely gorgeous? You can adjust the taste to your liking, add more citric juice if you prefer it tangy or a few more sugar drops for a sweeter taste. I like to minimise anything if possible so I can taste the meat for what it is. I was mighty pleased to receive a positive review from my most honest critic, yes, hubster himself, and I would be delighted to get your comments on this post.

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