Raw and Rare
By Lindy Wildsmith
Published by Jacqui Small, £20
It’s only fairly recently that the dining public – or the British dining public, at least – has got over its suspicion of raw food. Food writer Lindy Wildsmith has taken note and drawn together the many and varied examples of raw food throughout world cuisine, such as sashimi, ceviche, crudo, carpaccio and tartare, to unite them in her book, Raw and Rare.
Wildsmith explains that while sashimi is 100% raw, many other forms of raw food are, in actual fact, ‘cooked’ in the sense that their preparation changes the proteins in the fish or meat through a process called denaturing – whether it’s through the citric acid in ceviche,the acetic acid in pickling or the salt in salted products.
She doesn’t limit herself just to raw food though – some recipes involve the fleeting application of the heat from a griddle or a blow torch, or a waft of hot or
cold smoke. This is the case with dishes such as Cambodian seared duck breast with red cabbage slaw, or the fried bonito with shredded daikon and shiso.
Recipes are split into sections: fish and seafood; meat, poultry and game; salad vegetables and dressings; pickles; and fruit. And pretty involved recipes they are too – a step beyond what many home cooks are likely to be able to achieve.
Langoustines with tomato jelly, for example, takes its inspiration from a dish by Yoshinori Ishii at Umu in London and requires, among other things, gelatine and edible flowers. Many of the dishes are beautifully presented – from the vibrant colours of the summer tricolour beets with crushed Brazils, seeds and marjoram, to the salt block-cured sea bream and basil pesto. Not everything appeals, though.
I could give the blanched seafood melon, where half the fruit is hollowed out and filled with what look like writhing tentacles, a miss. The book’s font size is also frustratingly small, making it difficult to refer to in a kitchen.
But as a bank of inspiration for the professional chef, it has plenty to offer, tapping into a wealth of recipes that are attractive, on-trend and generally pretty healthy.
By Neil Gerrard
If you like this, why not try
Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen, Martin Morales
Cured: Slow Techniques for Flavouring Meat, Fish and Vegetables, Lindy Wildsmith
Charcuterie: the Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing Michael Ruhlman, Brian Polcyn and Yevgenity Solovyev