Raw food diets are nothing new but they do rather take the pleasure out of cookery, or do they?
The Primal diet advocates that a vast majority of the food consumed must be raw meat or fish, raw dairy and eggs with just a smattering of fruit and veg. Whereas the Paleo diet doesn’t mind if the meat is cooked or not, allows plenty of fruit and vegetables but strictly bans any form of grains, as this is what the cavemen would have eaten ten thousand years ago. Paleo followers insist that when man began growing crops and deviating from their traditional diet was when heart disease and cancers began ravaging our bodies as the digestive system couldn’t cope. Primal devotee, Aajonus Vonderplanitz of California, claims that his totally raw diet has cured his cancer and left him with more energy and a feeling of well being. He has now developed a taste for ‘high’ meat or meat well past it’s sell by date.
Eating rancid meat could never be recommended but there are other issues involving food safety such as e coli to consider. E coli lives on the surface of meat which is why searing meat on all sides will render it harmless, whereas pre bought ground meat needs cooking right through. On this note, maybe trimming all sides of a meat that is to be served raw would make it safer. It goes without saying that the meat must be of the highest quality.
There are raw meat dishes served all around the world, some more famous than others –
Kitfo is a ground beef dish marinated in mitmita (a spicy chilli powder). Clarified butter is infused with herbs and spices and poured over the beef, then served with cheese and cooked greens.
Harry’s Bar in Venice is said to be the home of thinly sliced beef that we know today as carpaccio. The story tells of a Countess in the 1950’s ordering raw beef on her doctor’s say so, a waiter renamed it after a painting on the wall by Vittore Carpaccio.
Carne Cruda is another Italian offering of raw beef. The finely chopped meat is mixed with lemon juice, garlic, anchovy and lots of olive oil and finished off with shavings of truffle.
Steak Tartare is reputed to be from the Tartare tribe in Central Asia who kept joints of beef under their horse’s saddles which became tenderized by the end of their journey. The chopped meat is usually mixed with capers, gherkins, shallots, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce before being served with a raw egg yolk.
Koreans also have a similar dish to tartare, the finely sliced raw beef appears in a dish called Yook Hwe which they serve with chopped asian pear and an egg yolk.
In this dish the meat is ‘cooked’ by lime juice. Raw coarsely ground beef is mixed with tomatoes, onions, chili, avocado, cilantro and the lime juice. This is served with crackers or tostadas.
Across Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq a version of their famous Kibbeh is served raw and called Kibbeh Nayeh. Here we see Lamb for a change which is mixed with bulgar wheat, spices and cloves then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with mint.
Beef fillet is sliced as thinly as possible, similar to carpaccio. It is then drizzled with a dressing made from limes, lemon grass and fish sauce for a dish named Pleah Saiko.
Similar to above, the Thais thinly slice beef brisket and make a dressing with the above ingredients but with added chili and cilantro.
Tiradito is often made with fish but is also made with thinly sliced beef fillet. A mixture of olive oil, soy sauce, lime and orange juice is brushed onto the fillets and served with green onions and sprinkled with cilantro.
Pictures courtesy of flickr - CWakim, Superflow and TonyWorrall