One of my favorite dishes to make for a light lunch or pre-dinner appetizer is beef carpaccio. Before you run away, it's much simpler than you might think. And, there's no cooking involved. Just a few minutes of prep work.
Supposedly, beef carpaccio was invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy, by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1950. It was named after Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, who was known for the bold use of red in his paintings. The story goes that the dish, which features raw beef, was created for a customer who couldn't digest an enzyme in cooked meat.
It's a very colorful, simple, and delicious dish - one with lots of sizzle but no cooking necessary, although some cooks do like to quickly sear the beef before slicing it. To me, that's an unnecessary step.
Begin with a high-quality piece of beef tenderloin or sirloin, about 10 ounces. About two hours before preparing the carpaccio, put the beef in the freezer. Partially frozen beef is much easier to thinly slice than cold or room temperature meat.
Slice the beef as thin as you can, about 1/8 inch-thick slices.
Next, arrange the beef slices on a sheet of plastic wrap, leaving plenty of room between the slices. (In the photos here, I used parchment paper because I was out of plastic wrap. Wax paper also works.)
Now, cover the beef with another sheet of plastic wrap. With a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound the beef slices until they are so thin you can almost see through them.
Then, arrange the meat slices onto a cold plate or serving platter. Season the meat with coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper. You can do everything up to this point a few hours ahead of serving, if you'd like. Just keep the meat in the fridge, lightly covered with plastic wrap until you're ready to serve.
To finish the carpaccio, top the beef with torn pieces of arugula and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Other topping options include capers, minced shallots, or just about anything else you'd like. I like to keep my carpaccio simple.
Some people dress their carpaccio with vinaigrette, which is fine. I prefer simply to drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the carpaccio. I find that olive oil allows the subtlety of the mild-tasting meat to come through better than if it's finished with vinaigrette.
Similarly, you can make tuna carpaccio in the same fashion, substituting sushi-grade tuna for the beef.
That's all there is to it. Enjoy!