Scrapcook: This Leftover-Steak Carpaccio Salad Is Better Than True Carpaccio

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Carpaccio, in its ideal form. [Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

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Despite finding a second home for the steak I cooked with Adam Savage in the form of this easy seared-steak tataki with cucumbers and ponzu, I still found myself with leftover, refrigerated, perfectly seared rare steak, with no place to go. My wife, Adri, is a huge lover of carpaccio, though we manage to order it only once or twice a year. That's partly because meat is a rare order for us (no pun intended) at a restaurant, and also because it's become so darn difficult to find a good version.

Most restaurants serve flavorless frozen beef, sliced thinner than you'd actually want it (carpaccio shouldn't have the texture of wet tissue paper) and presented in suboptimal ways. Typically, carpaccio is served by tiling a plate with thinly sliced beef; drizzling that beef with olive oil; scattering it with capers, Parmesan shavings, and onion slivers; and perhaps placing a little pile of arugula in the center, along with some lemon wedges.* Eating it becomes an exercise in balancing capers on the beef, trying to make sure that enough lemon gets on each bite, and dragging undressed arugula through the olive oil in an attempt to dress it. It's not ideal.

* I don't want to even get into the places that squirt massive amounts of mayo-like dressing or—god forbid—balsamic vinegar over the surface. This exists, and it is not pretty.

To solve those issues, instead of simply slicing and topping, I decided to thinly slice my steak and use it to compose a dressed-salad version of carpaccio.

With a composed salad, you ensure that everything is dressed and seasoned properly before it even gets to the table. Chopped capers worked into a vinaigrette lend their flavor to each bite. Lemon juice is suspended in an emulsion that coats greens evenly (and, for the sake of tradition, you can even leave a few lemon wedges on the plate for anyone who likes their carpaccio extra lemony). A small dollop of whole grain mustard enhances the brightness of the capers and helps with the emulsion. Beef, arugula, cheese, and onions can all be picked up in one forkful. It just makes more sense to me.

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In fact, I liked this salad so much—including the little hint of smokiness that the grilled steak gave it—that I don't think I'll ever order regular carpaccio again. Does anyone else want to join me in my Make Carpaccio 3D movement?