“I like to think of flavours like accessories – a piece of meat might be the little black dress and then the flavours and then the flavours that turn it Asian or Italian are like a pair of killer high heels.”
Alex Hollywood, interviewed by Lucy Holden in The Sunday Times
I never thought I would discover a fine Italian dish in the depths of Germany – in Nordheim to be precise – but that is exactly what happened. And as a result, by happy serendipity, that is also how I discovered (which few Italians will know) that the best thing to accompany it is a very traditional dish of Bratkartoffeln, and Boy George’s mushroom and watercress, or rocket salad.
The receptionist at our hotel proposed a choice of two restaurants: one was an expensive, smart and stuffy German restaurant; the other a pizzeria. Normally we would have plumped for the local food option, but after a twelve hour drive the last thing we wanted was to spruce ourselves up and change our togs.
At the pizzeria (the Venezia) we found pizzas…but also other things. Also on offer as a special was a carpaccio of beef – but not the usual raw beef. This was fried in the Lake Garda style. Even better, the enthusiastic proprietor was on hand to tell us all about it. “It takes just seconds” he explained (in Italian as I don’t speak German), and then mimicked a quick flick of the wrist on a frying pan, accompanied with the onomatopoeic expression, “Tak Tak!”. He told us he was from Lake Garda, and that it was a dish local to that part of Italy.
And yes, both of us were aware that ‘carpaccio’ means raw, uncooked …. but this method uses the same cut of beef.
“It takes just seconds”…hmm…I was immediately interested. And when it arrived and was excellent, I resolved to try it at home. That too was a success.
The Chief Taster ordered his with chips, but I ordered the local Bratkartoffeln, ‘brat’ means braised in Italian, and these, very typically German potatoes are braised with bacon and onions. Their melting, moist softness went, we both decided, better with the wafer-thin, simply cooked meat than the chips.
Here, then, is the way to cook carpaccio ‘Tak Tak’.
Recipe for fried carpaccio of beef, Tak Tak
- 150g beef carpaccio – very thinly sliced raw high quality beef – this is about five slices
- for each slice, about 1 tbsps each of grated parmesan, olive oil (plus extra for frying), and chopped parsley
- freshly ground black pepper
- zest and juice of half a large lemon
- Pour some oil into a large frying pan and get it good and hot.
- On a flat plate, mix together the parmesan, the parsley, and the lemon zest
- Oil the meat and then put each slice down in the parmesan-parsley-zest mix to lightly coat. Do this on both sides and grind some black pepper over both sides.
- Fry literally Tak Tak – a couple of minutes maximum on each side.
- Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve immediately on hot plates.