We always seemed to arrive at the beach at lunchtime. We headed to the nearest fish restaurant and Cathy and Rosie ordered big steaming heaps of spaghetti alle vongole followed by crispy fritto misto – a mountain of battered scampi, baby squid, anchovies, small crabs, fresh sardines and tiny juvenile flatfish like sole.
Trouble is I don’t eat fish and I usually settle for a pretty bland pasta pomodoro. More recently, though, things have turned around with a new restaurant which opened in Porto San Giorgio. They made me a gem of a pasta pomodoro. The secret according to the friendly waiter is the ricotta cheese in the sauce.
Ingredients for 4 people
Mixed seafood – 1kg of sardines, anchovies,
whiting, baby sole, small crabs, scampi, baby
(or what your fishmonger recommends)
Plain flour – 2 cups
Vegetable oil – 500ml
Sage leaves – several
Lemon – 1 large
Salt and white pepper
The seafood should be quite small, so it’s probably not worth gutting. Anyway they say that the intestines give a slightly sharp taste, and the fried heads are pleasantly crunchy. Sometimes Cathy takes out small bones as Rosie tucks in.
Wash, clean and pat dry the seafood. If you do have big squid and cuttlefish cut away the mouth parts and the bone of the cuttlefish. Cut into rings if necessary.
Spread the flour out on a shallow dish. Dip the fish in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a large pan with the sage. Once hot enough (test with a piece of old bread, which should brown in about 30 seconds) remove the sage leaves and fry the seafood, starting with the larger pieces. Once golden brown remove and drain on kitchen paper. Serve on a warm plate with lemon wedges and season with salt and pepper.
Recipe Extract from: The Dolce Vita Diaries – Stories and recipes from the olive grove.