Paccheri with Red Mullet
As summer comes fish takes more centre stage in our family. And this dish is a wonderful way to combine a full tummy with the flavours of the Med. Red Mullet (Triglia in Italian) is a local Mediterranean fish that is often found along the Tuscan coast (and in many local recipes, such Triglie alla Livornese). This is a dish that can be done with fresh pasta, like the Chef Luciano Zazzeri does in his wonderful restaurant on the Tuscan coast La Pineta– one of the best restaurants in Italy – but at home, and if short of time, I find the right sort of dry pasta is very good, and it’s much easier.
For 4 people
500 grams Paccheri dry pasta (or other large type short pasta)
300 grams whole Red Mullet + 4 fillets of Red Mullet.
½ onion chopped.
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced.
1 peperoncino (or a teaspoon of chilly flakes)
1 dozen cherry tomatoes
½ glass of wine
½ litre fish stock
For the stock:
The fish bones from the 4 fillets of Red Mullet
1 small celery stick
6 juniper berries
6 red pepper berries
1 lt water
Which EVOO to use?
Paolo Cassini, Extremum because the uplifting aromas of cut grass and pine nuts don’t overpower the delicate red mullet, yet there is enough concentration in this oil to join the party.
Viola, Inprivio, which is a monocultivar Frantoio and features artichoke, basil, mint and almond making it a brilliant partner for white fish in particular
- Ask your fishmonger to fillet 2 medium sized Red Mullets, and use the left over bones and head for the fish stock., together with other stock ingredients, bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
- Put the water on to boil for the pasta.
- Once the stock is ready and the pasta water is boiling, pour a generous amount of your everyday cooking EVOO on a thick base frying pan, and fry the onion, garlic and chilly gently, until the onion is a translucent green (the green is picked up from the olive oil).
- Pour in the wine and burn the alcohol off. Add 4 ladleful of fish stock and cook the whole Red Mullets (not the fillets) in the the pan to cook for about 3 minutes, turning the fish so it’s cooked evenly.
- Put the Paccheri in the salted boiling pasta water.
- When ready take the fish out, keeping the sauce cooking, and take the flesh of the bones. Add the chopped tomatoes to the sauce. If you see that it’s drying out, add a bit more fish stock.
- Fry the Red Mullet fillets in a pan with some oil, gently on the both sides for about 1 minute. Be careful when turning or removing from the pan, so you don’t loose the lovely red skin.
- Put the flesh from the whole Red Mullets back in the sauce.
- 1 minute before the Paccheri are ready, drain them and put them to cook in the sauce, adding a little chopped parsley, a little pepper and salt if needed and turning them well to ensure the pasta is well coated by the sauce.
- Plate with one cooked fillet as decoration in the middle of the pasta as decoration and a drizzle of EVOO.