really miss the English language version of La Cucina Italiana. Does anybody
else out there feel the same way?
It was the one periodical I had found that
gave a glimpse into the world of authentic Italian cuisine. I still wade
through the Italian language online version, but it just isn’t the same.
my favorite features each month was a two-page spotlight on a traditional
Italian ingredient. Fennel. Mussels. Artichokes. Saffron. It included a little
history of each, its regional uses, and a "recipe."
is in quotes because the recipes were, in effect, non-recipes. They reminded me
of my Gramma's recipe cards: a list of ingredients and little instruction. "Mix
ingredients and cook until done."
recipe, the ingredient was saffron. And the list of ingredients included onion,
olive oil, tomatoes, fish broth, saffron, and firm white fish. I think the instructions
were, "Make a rich broth and poach fish until done."
enjoyed this recipe for years, experimenting with the proportions every time.
Its aromatic broth and beautiful color transports us to the Mediterranean. Here
is my more detailed recipe, which I paired with a Château Margüi L'Or
des Pierres white wine, from the Côte Varois. You can read more about this wine
on the Provence WineZine.
Poached in Tomato-Saffron Broth
shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
shrimp broth (or fish stock or water) *
sea bass fillets **
the oil in a very large (12" or larger) skillet. Sauté the shallots till clear
but not brown. Add the wine and reduce by half ‐‐ about 5 minutes over
medium‐low heat. Add the bay leaf,
cherry tomatoes and shrimp stock; bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Add the
saffron, salt and pepper and simmer 3 minutes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead up to
this point. Return to a simmer before adding fish.)
sea bass fillets in a single layer on top of broth, cover and cook for 2‐3 minutes. Turn fillets, cover
and cook 2 more minutes. (Timing will depend on the thickness of your fillets -
the fish should flake easily with a fork.)
sea bass fillets among four large, heated soup plates; spoon broth and tomatoes
over top. Garnish with chives.
Whenever I peel raw shrimp, I place all the shells in a resealable bag and keep
it in my freezer. In addition to the shrimp shells, I also add pieces of
shallot, onion, carrot, celery, and fennel. Then, when I need shrimp stock, I fill
a saucepan with frozen shells and vegetables, and add water, a little white wine,
salt, peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, and a few sprigs of thyme, and boil it
down. For this dish requiring 2 cups of shrimp broth, I use 3 cups of water and
reduce it to the 2 cups I need. This ensures the concentration of the flavors. Simply
strain and use.
** Grouper - or cabrillo - also works well. This dish requires a firm, white-flesh fish that will hold up to poaching.
Labels: poached, saffron, sea bass, shallots, shrimp broth, tomatoes