Living in Italy for 3 years gave me a taste for all things fish, and blending it with a staple diet of freshly made tagliatelle is no bad thing.
The most common form of seafood pasta in Italy is a pomodoro (tomato) based sauce, not thick but laden with shellfish whereby you have the work to do at the table, it’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong but very often the subtleness of the fish has been taken over. What follows is something I’ve created over the years and it truly let’s the flavours blend, enhance and remain.
Take 5 Echalion shallots (those are the banana shaped variety, not the round ones though it doesn’t matter, it is just my preference) and slice finely, add 2 garlic cloves, crushed and steep in 200 ml of a crisp chilled white wine. Given that this is an Italian inspired dish I chose a Soave.
Add 3 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (seeds removed) we want the flavour with just a small kick of heat, the seeds are the real spice in a chilli. Then add 1 tsp red pesto to the soaking shallots and stir well, then set aside.
For the next part of the preparation take 2 salmon fillets (no seasoning), place them on silver foil with no oil, skin side down, in a pre-heated oven (170c) for 6 minutes 30 seconds. All we are doing here is to get the protein to begin to come out and leave the inside as you see below. Remove and leave to cool. After 30 minutes flake the meat from the skin which will stay dutifully put to the foil, place the flesh in a bowl and put to one side, we’ll finish cooking that with the other seafood later.
Now you can cheat and buy a packet of mixed seafood or you can do it yourself, it is entirely your choice but if you wish to DIY as I did here cut the squid in 1.5cm slices, cook your mussels in advance and leave to cool (any sauce from the mussels make a good stock so don’t waste it) and place them, and the prawn in a seasoned chilli oil in a pan for approximately 2 minutes.
As the prawns and squid release their juices sprinkle sweet paprika in to aid thickening, and stir briskly then remove from the heat source.
As the prawns, squid and mussels cool add freshly ground black pepper and 2 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce, stir it in using a wooden spoon to ensure you do not damage the fish, continue to let the pan cool before adding the par baked flaked salmon and stir once again to coat the salmon with the chilli sauce.
Take 25g fresh dill and 25g fresh flat leaf parsley, slice halfway up. Use the top half (leaves etc.) for garnishing once cooked, use the bottom half, including stalks chopped in the main dish whilst cooking; NEVER lose that flavour, use it all. The stalks will bring the gift of the full flavour of the herb, this goes for almost any herb but avoid with Rosemary and Sage as the stalks are far too woody.
Add half of the bottom half to the wine soaked shallots and stir.
Cut 5 baby plum tomatoes into 8ths then combine with 150 ml of the same wine, and the remaining half of the bottom of the dill and flat leaf parsley stalks, whilst blanching the fresh tagliatelle.
Fresh pasta requires only a couple of minutes as it will continue to cook when it enters the sauce. Dried pasta needs approximately double the time but ALWAYS cook your pasta for less time than the packet states.
Place the tomatoes in a pan with a little olive oil and once you can hear the dill begin to bubble in the oil add a little double cream and stir.
Once the cream has warmed add the combined seafood whilst continuing to stir.
After 1 minute add the wine soaked shallots, they’re finely sliced so shall cook quickly and the wine shall be subsumed by the cream and hence lighten a little.
At this stage you get to decide if you wish to add more cream or leave it, that is a matter of personal taste. Stir for another 3 minutes and add 1/5th of the tagliatelle to the pan, stir for 1 minute more.
Plate up however you see fit, with or without crusty bread, chilli oil and a glass of whatever you wish.
The remaining pasta should be presented to the table so that guests can combine more or less sauce with the remains.
Any questions feel free to ask over on twitter at the #ParlezPantry hashtag.