By Anna Dantoni –
The raw-food movement worldwide is persistent, with proponents and detractors weighing in equally about the health benefits or nutritional dangers of subsisting on a diet of uncooked foods. A raw foodist is referred to as a crudivore and some celerities who embrace and proselytize for the lifestyle include Demi Moore, the fashion model Carol Alt and the actor Woody Harrelson, who has written books on raw food and owns a raw food restaurant called 02.
Whether or not you embrace a diet of strictly raw foods, spring and summer are the right seasons to investigate recipes that focus on uncooked fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats to compose al fresco meals made without high heat from grill, stovetop or oven. Frankly, that sounds refreshing.
Delphine de Montalier has written a handsome and persuasive cookbook called Raw Food French Style about techniques, equipment needed and recipes to set an inviting and nourishing raw food table. There are 115 recipes in the book. The trick seems to be to thinly slice, mince, dice, shred, chop and cut because a lot of raw food dishes depend upon texture, color and garnish to make them look as appetizing as the tastes. You will also have to make a few trips to a health food store or gourmet food emporium for certain ingredients.
Decide for yourself if raw food is a lifestyle commitment you want to make. In the meantime these recipes are a nice addition to your spring and summer menus. If you want flame, light candles when you sit down at the table.
Bottarga and Vegetable Salad
Note: Bottarga is dry cured roe of grey mullet, tuna or swordfish. It’s highly popular in Mediterranean restaurants and widely available now for home cooks.
4 asparagus spears
1 purple carrot
1 yellow turnip
1 small beetroot
2 ounces peeled bottarga
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
Sea salt to taste
Wash all the vegetables, scrubbing them especially well if they are not organic. Peel all of the vegetables except for the zucchini. With a sharp knife or mandoline, slice all the vegetables lengthways as thinly as possible. For the asparagus, but off the ends and peel away any touch skin. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the spears end to tip into long ribbons. Arrange the vegetables on a large plate. Combine the oils and drizzle them over the salad. Sprinkle the salad with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to make shavings of the bottarga and sprinkle the bottarga on top of the vegetables. Serve immediately.
Soup of India
1 small cucumber
2 ripe tomatoes
6 sprigs cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Juice of a lime
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
Garnish with 1 teaspoon caraway seeds and ½ teaspoon turmeric
Peel the cucumber and slice about 2 ounces thin. Set aside slices. Chop the remainder of the cucumber finely. Wash the zucchinis and tomatoes and chop finely. Blend all the main ingredients together to obtain a smooth puree. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve this bright green soup in shallow bowls and garnish with cucumber slices, caraway seeds and a sprinkle of turmeric.
Seaweed-Fresh Tuna Salad
4 ounces raw tuna
2 ounces daikon radish
2 ½ ounces fresh wakame seaweed
1 ounce kombu seaweed
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
3 teaspoons organic light soy sauce
3 teaspoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons sesame seeds
3 teaspoons uncooked, crushed Thai rice
Prepare the dressing by mixing together the sesame oil, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce. Wash the tuna, pat it dry and cut in into small cubes. Keep tuna chilled in the refrigerator. Peel the daikon radish and cut in into very small cubes. Finely slice the seaweed and combine it with the radish. Put these ingredients into a mixing bowl. Just before serving the salad, add the tuna and the dressing and mix gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and crushed rice. Serve immediately.
(Raw Food French Style by Delphine de Montalier. Frances Lincoln Limited, $29.95)