Vitello tonnato is a traditional Northern Italian dish; it is made of thin slices of veal with a tuna fish sauce. Instead of veal, you can use turkey or chicken breast. You can also use roast remains or calf tongue.
What is funny about it, is that many Italian families have “frenchified” the name of the recipe, and call it “vitel tonné”, which is sure proof of Italian’s creativity and sense of humor, since “vitello” in French translates “veau”.
Anyway, the dish is delicious, and is widely eaten in Italy. You can serve it at a dinner with friends or even more formal events, and since it is light and easily eaten without a knife, it is often found in buffets for receptions or happy hour.
I am very fond of it but for some reasons (probably because I am lazy) I never took a habit to prepare it myself. It was therefore a very nice surprise when I landed in Jakarta and my maid, a lovely Indonesian woman whose culinary prowess I quickly assessed, one day presented me a lovely vitel tonné for lunch.
It is indeed quite easy to reproduce the recipe because all the ingredients are easily found here. Her procedure is different, though. Instead of putting all the slices of meat together and then covering them with abundant sauce, she piles up several layers of meat, and sparsely covers each one of them with the sauce:
As a result, the Indonesian vitel tonné is lighter, less thick with sauce, and it is even better if served a day after: the sauce has time to penetrate the meat and give it a special taste. Of course it is important to use tender meat, and this can be a bit of a problem in Jakarta, unless you are ready to buy filet, which is of course expensive.
It is worth the while though. Vitello tonnato is a delicious and nutrient recipe that will make both your family and all of your guests very happy!
1 veal roast (1 Kg)
1 stick of celery
Pepper and salt
For the sauce
200 gr of tuna fish
50 gms of capers
2 chopped anchovies
– Blend mayonnaise, tuna (crumbled), capers, anchovy fillets well.
– Boil the meat for about 45 minutes in water with onions, carrots, celery, pepper, salt.
Slice the beef as thinly as possible and place the slices on a large serving dish. Pour the sauce over the top of the meat.
Garnish with lemon slices, capers or carrot rounds.
Thanks to Chiara for the recipe and the main photo