So...the last BLOG post was of the region CAMPANIA. The next region – done on Thursday and Friday was MARCHE SEAFOOD. Because the school is in the Marche region, it seemed necessary to go a bit more in depth with this regions food – that is why there were two days of MARCHE MEAT and two of the seafood.
Our chef was Chef Massimo Bomprezzi. Massimo normally teaches at a Hotel and Restaurant school in Senigallia and does a lot of private events. From what I understood, the school he works at is more like a high school than a college, but I may be wrong.
So, I remember Thursday quite clear. The kitchen table was filled with white boxes of varying seafood. There were things I have never before seen – or even never thought of eating!
Most of the seafood we used was not anything expensive. We were replicating traditional regional dishes and most of the roots of the dishes come from peasant times.
Some of the main dishes of the region include:
Brodetto alla Fanese, Brodetto all’Anconetana, acciughe marinate, stoccafisso all’Anconetana, minestra di pesce, tagliatelle con lo stoccafisso, vongole alla poveraccia, calcioni, biscotti al vino, Brodetto di S. Benedetto, Brodetto di Porto Recanati, sepia con fagioli ed erbe aromatiche, raguse in porchetta, pesce alla griglia, biscotti con le mandorle, and cavallucci.
Yes, I know, that is a huge list and we did it all in two days – I enjoyed almost all of the dishes – some were quite interesting and I can honestly say that I have never seen any of these dishes before – in their true form at least!
Since I have been in Italy, I haven’t really enjoyed any of the stockfish or baccala recipes I have eaten – the stuff we get in the states, in that small wooden box, I like a lot more – the fish here is just so fishy smelling – I have heard some say that it isn’t the season but it is a preserved fish – it can’t really go out of season! What is cool though is that the fish is pretty much whole when you buy it, as opposed to the small 1 kg. wooden boxes in the US. Here, it is just a hanging, dried fish – fins, bones, and all!
Ok – so – pictures…lets see what I can come up with.
The first picture here is the acciughe marinate. You can see that we don’t mess around with plate presentations! These were very fresh and delicious!
This next photo is of one of those ingredients I said earlier that I never knew existed. These, I think, are called Mantis Shrimp in English. I didn’t care too much for them as there wasn’t much meat in them. They do look cool though, a definite plus for any paella or seafood plate where the seafood is left relatively whole.
Cozze or mussels are very popular in Italy. For the most part they are taken out of the shell but once I did see them served as I more commonly do in the states, in the shell! These mussels were removed, tossed in seasoned bread crumbs with olive oil and chopped shrimp, and other seafood, and then stuffed into the shell. They are baked till golden brown and served with lemon. Yummy!
The vongole - clams above were also very simply prepared – without any water in the pot, they were just slowly steamed open. When done, they were splashed with a touch of white wine and some garnish! (Note to George: Don’t add any more salt!)
This dish below, sepia con fagioli ed erbe aromatiche is just that. It is seared squid that is then slowly braised in a tomatoish sauce for about an hour. Towards the end, cooked cannelini beans are added to thicken and give body to this dish. Very tasty!
There is almost always a pasta dish for ‘pranzo’ – lunch. This was the sauce that we tossed our handmade pasta chitarra in. It was basically all the seafood we had in the kitchen, put into a large pot with EVOO, a bit of tomato sauce and some pepperoncini!
Sea snails are very common on the beaches of the Adriatic. These snails were blanched quickly, picked out of their shell with a pairing knife, and then placed back into a pot to simmer away. The snails simmered in a rich tomato and fish-brodo liquid and when done, were very soft and tender!
Now we are getting into the more controversial Brodetto. These are soups or stews that make up a single village. Almost all the villages/cities that lie on Marche’s Adriatic have their own version of Brodetto. As a staple, most have 13 different species of seafood in them, ranging from fish, to squid, to shelled fish, etc.
Saying has it that these stews were started by fishermen out on sea who were trying to use up all of the ‘un-marketable’ pieces of seafood they caught. Note that it is un-marketable, not un-edible…huge difference! They would use pieces of broken fish, etc. and would start this large pot and add to it ass they worked.
In general – you follow the simple rule that you start with the seafood that takes longest to cook, then gradually add the rest in due time. At the end, you should have a perfectly cooked fish stew!
The two I am showing you are my two favorites from the Marche. The first is the Brodetto di San Benedetto. This stew is probably the most famous of them all, it appears (to me at least) the most in cook books and on menus in the US. It is identified by its not so intense red color, more yellowish actually then red, and its pieces of bell pepper, a signature ingredient.
Of the two, I liked the one below a bit more! This one, Brodetto alla Fanese…from the town of Fanno is very rich and flavorful. It has a distinct tomatoee flavor because its signature ingredient is tomato PASTE. You should never see a fresh tomato in the Fanese version. It also has a bit of a piccante side to it!
I do hope you enjoyed your time here in the Marche Seafood section. As always, I will close with a group picture. The chef here is in the center with the black apron! Feel free to write back with any questions!