Let’s state this right off the bat: the kind of raw food we’re talking about has nothing to do with nut cheese, sprouted kamut, or borage oil. It is not the diet espoused by wiry celebrities in white linen that leaves its adherents with serious vitamin deficiencies and brittle bones. No, the raw food we’re interested in is all meat: cow, pig, fish and, yes, even elk. Crude and elemental, this is the new raw diet.
Steak Tartare Sandwich
Chef Anthony Rose remixes a classic steak tartare by combining it with all the things that make a great sandwich. “I love to eat this with Hellman’s mayo and much more tabasco and a glass of Moët rosé,” he says. Although he prefers this raw preparation, the Toronto-based chef with an ever-expanding collection of restaurants admits, “If you cook the chopped sirloin by itself with a little bit of salt and pepper you get something called a burger.”
Drake Devonshire chef Matthew DeMille came up with this dish after talking to one of his colleagues who had recently returned from Peru. It took some convincing, but he eventually devised a recipe that turned out so well, it will feature this summer on the restaurant menu. “At first I thought shrimp was kind of a weird thing to use for a crudo or ceviche,” DeMille admits. “Most people use white fish or scallops or red meat. The original preparation had ketchup in it, which is also weird for fish. I decided to give it a try, but instead of ketchup I just use a purée of tomatoes. I didn’t want to serve it with the usual toast or crostini, so I tried topping it with lightly buttered popcorn and it worked really well. You get the crunch from the buttery popcorn and the slight chewiness of the shrimp.”
Branzino with Olive Oil and Prosecco
The crew from Bucca Yorkville were on an R&D trip to Venice when they first discovered this dish. “A friend of ours brought us to a restaurant called Osteria Ai Do Farai specifically to try the branzino crudo,” chef Gentile recalls. “It’s a tiny little restaurant down an alleyway, and it was outstanding because the guy basically comes to the table, he presents you with some fish. You choose one you want, and he cleans it there at the table, slices it, presents it on a plate and finishes with these ingredients he has on his cart. We were freaking out. It was amazing and we were over the moon with this guy and this restaurant. We told him we were opening a restaurant and it was going to be all about fish and asked him if he would he mind if we did this, so we got his blessing.” This recipe is all about letting the quality of the ingredients build into something spectacular. Use your best olive oil and a good quality salt, ideally sale di cervia, the famous sea salt from Italy they use to make prosciutto di parma.
Chef Angus An of Vancouver’s celebrated Maenam restaurant first came across this dish while travelling through the north of Thailand where he was surprised to find that it was quite common to serve raw beef. “This is a kind of blend between a French tartare and the Thai version,” he says. “In Thailand they make it with a sauce built from the fermented stomach of the cow. We’re not really able to do that here, it’s a bit funky, so we use grilled shallots and grilled galangal to emulate that same smoky-sweet flavour. Fresh herbs brighten the richness of the beef, and fragrant spices give a boost of complex flavour, balanced by acidity, salt and heat.”
Aside from its immense deliciousness, wholesome healthiness, and white hot fashionability, poke is just
as amazing for its flexibility. This recipe, your basic Hawaiian deli display case version, is only the beginning. Plenty tasty on its own, it can also be upgraded with all manner of add-ons, toppings and sauces. Furthermore, while this recipe calls for tuna, salmon, shrimp, or octopus can also be used. Serve with rice, noodles or fried wonton crisps.