Japanese beef carpaccio with salad leaf tempura

I do love it when a recipe sort of makes itself up as you go along, and you end up with something much more creative than you originally planned. I wanted to use the beef fillet from my Farmison meat box to make a carpaccio salad. I was originally going to use an Italian leaf salad as a base, but ended up spontaneously turning it into tempura and making quite interesting carpaccio rolls.

Spicy Japanese carpaccio
Carpaccio is actually very easy to make. You need a good chunky fillet and a good rub such as a herb mix for the crust. While browsing my local Asian grocery store (China Ark for anyone who lives in East London – it’s tiny but has everything), I found the perfect spice mix – Nanami Togarashi or Japanese ‘seven spice’, which contains chilli pepper, orange peel, black sesame seed, white sesame seed, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed.

You will need:

  • 200-250g fillet steak
  • 1 tsp Japanese seven spice, or substitute with 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted in a pan
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Simply roll the fillet in the spice mix, making sure that the entire fillet is covered. Heat the oil in a pan until very hot. Quickly sear the fillet on all sides (including the ends) – I allowed for 45 seconds per side. Remove the fillet and place on a plate in the freezer for 20-30 minutes until very cold, which will make it easier to slice thinly.

When sliced, you can also lay the pieces out under a piece of cling film and flatten them out with a rolling pin.

Crispy salad leaf tempura
This was an interesting accidental creation. My salad leaves were on their last legs and not very fresh. I wondered whether it was possible to deep fry them and create something like crispy seaweed. Eventually it came to me that I could add a bit of batter and create a delicate tempura.

You will need:

  • 100g salad leaves; kale could be a good substitute
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Firstly, dry out the salad by laying it out on a baking tray in a oven at around 120C – about 15 minutes should do it. Coat the salad leaves in some flour, then in just enough whisked egg. Heat a saucepan with just enough vegetable oil for deep frying, and – if you have the patience – add the salad leaf by leaf. I added it more like clump by clump, using chopsticks to separate the leaves as much as possible. When the leaves look like they’re on the verge of burning, they’re ready!

Drain on a paper towels, patting the oil away, and sprinkle a pinch of salt and sugar over the tempura.

Oriental tahini sauce
I borrowed this sauce from a Jamie Oliver carpaccio recipe. I think I know what he was trying to do with the tahini but you know what – I would make a wasabi or horseradish-based sauce next time because I find the taste of tahini so particular and overpowering.

You will need:

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Juice of half a lime

Mix all the ingredients in a jam jar, and shake vigorously. I just realised I forgot to add the sugar, which is probably why it just tasted like zingy tahini paste to me!

Wow – delicious. There’s nothing more than a stonkingly good quality fillet to make a simple, tasty carpaccio. Now while I was eating my meticulously constructed salad, I realised that I could stuff a carpaccio slice with the paste and tempura to create a sushi-like roll. So there you have it, a highly successful experiment in improvisation. Itadakimasu!

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