Raw revelation: three recipes for a warm day that may convert you

Paul Flynn: I gradually turned a corner, as if my brain finally acquiesced and gave me permission to enjoy raw tuna

Mackerel tataki. Photograph: Harry Weir

Mackerel tataki. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

It took me years to come around to raw food. My generation of Irish people were not conditioned for it. In most of our houses the mantra would have been the opposite, the recipes mostly taken from the Boiled to Bejaysus cookbook.

I first had carpaccio of beef in London’s swanky Le Caprice in the 1980s while trying to impress an even swankier girlfriend. It reluctantly slipped down my gullet as if it knew it was wasted on me. I came around shortly after as my more urbane sensibilities came to the fore.

A cooked oyster with blue cheese put me off oysters for years. The notion of those two together should have made the chef hang up his whites in shame. I only became a convert when a surprise platter of them appeared in front of us in Bentley’s one evening, accompanied by a looming Richard Corrigan. You don’t say no to Richard, so I necked them like a pro. They were a revelation and I’ve been a convert ever since.

Carpaccio of beef, raw vegetables, herbed creme fraiche
Carpaccio of beef, raw vegetables, herbed creme fraiche

While I was a budding chef I found myself working for the wonderful Rowley Leigh in Le Poulbot, a Roux brothers restaurant in the City of London. He had a tuna tataki on the menu and it was my job to prepare it. I tentatively tasted morsels to check the seasoning and gradually turned a corner, as if my brain finally acquiesced and gave me permission to enjoy it.

This is a delicious gazpacho, the verdancy of it is important hence the name. Eat it on a hot day and count your blessings.

Green and good gazpacho. Photograph: Harry Weir
Green and good gazpacho. Photograph: Harry Weir

The freshest mackerel is a brilliant substitute for tuna. It’s a very delicate affair, give it a go. Let the fishmonger do the filleting but still check for bones. The seasonings are subtle. The pickled ginger and soy cure the mackerel, alleviating any worries you might have about its raw state.

My love for carpaccio long outlasted the girlfriend. The beef should be gossamer thin. This recipe is different from the ubiquitous rocket and Parmesan accompaniment. The texture of the vegetables, along with the dressing, are a crisp and creamy foil.

Recipe: A green and good gazpacho

Recipe: Mackerel tataki

Recipe: Carpaccio of beef, raw vegetables, herbed creme fraiche

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