What Is Carpaccio and How Do You Make It?

Also, is it safe to eat?

beef carpaccio
Photo: Getty Images

Here's everything you need to know about carpaccio, a traditional Italian dish with a colorful history:

What Is Carpaccio?

Carpaccio is an Italian appetizer of thinly sliced raw meat drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. It's traditionally made with beef, but can be made with fish (specifically salmon or tuna), veal, or venison.

These days, "carpaccio" is used to refer to pretty much anything that's been thinly sliced and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. It's not uncommon to see vegetarian carpaccio on menus, comprised of thinly sliced fruit or vegetables.

Carpaccio History

Carpaccio was invented by Chef Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry's Bar in Venice in the 1950s. According to legend, Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo, whose doctor had warned her against eating cooked meat, asked the chef to create something that suited her dietary needs.

He rose to the challenge and presented her with thinly sliced raw beef served with a cream-coloured sauce.

So how did he come up with the name "carpaccio?"

When he admired his creation's deep red hue, Cipriani was reminded of a painter from the Italian Renaissance named Vittore Carpaccio. Carpaccio was known for his liberal use of a bright, splashy red in his paintings.

Is Carpaccio Safe to Eat?

While many people all over the world eat rare—or even raw—meat every day, there's no guarantee it's a safe practice.

"Unfortunately, even if preferred by foodies, there's no way to guarantee the safety of rare meat," according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "That also means raw meat delights, such as steak tartare or beef carpaccio, are not considered safe, especially for people who are at higher risk of food poisoning."

Pregnant women, children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems should avoid all raw and undercooked meats.

Related: Are Those "Clearance" Meats Really Safe to Eat?

How to Make Carpaccio

Beef sirloin and tenderloin are the most common meats used to make carpaccio. Go to a reputable butcher who knows that the beef will be consumed raw.

After you've trimmed all the fat off the meat, season your cut with salt, pepper, herbs, and vinegar.

Seal the meat tightly in plastic and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours.

Using an electric meat slicer is the best way to ensure you get the thin slices required for carpaccio. If you don't have one (or prefer to go the old-fashioned route), use a sharp knife to slice the meat as thinly as possible.

Drizzle the meat with olive oil and lemon juice for the most basic beef carpaccio. However, most people finish the dish with capers, onions, and Parmesan cheese.


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