Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stracci con Ragú di Pesce

This recipe is serious work so it's not for everyone.

This recipe requires access to the freshest seafood and that means a local fisherman not a supermarket!

This recipe isn't here to feed your pathetic little palate. It's here to ensure the perfection of your soul.

It only works in summer when you have access to fresh seafood, fresh tomatoes and basil but what a recipe!

If you don't understand why tomatoes, you should read this.

The CC is also assuming that you have made the tomato sauce ahead of time. It's always there in the CC's kitchen in summer but if not you will need to make that as well.

So get cranking!

Stracci con ragú di pesce

(serves 2)

Note: This is the rare recipe that pairs fresh pasta with seafood and tomatoes. It's the exception that proves the rule. The idea is that both the tomatoes act as an accent. They are definitely not the main show here. The fresh seafood is.


Fresh Pasta

1 cup 00 flour (substitute by sieved all-purpose)
1 egg

Ragú di pesce

6 scallops
2 squid
12 clams

8 cloves garlic
1 dried red chili
16 cherry tomatoes (half yellow, half red — cut in half)

1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 sprigs basil

pinch of saffron

olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

few basil leaves (cut into thin ribbons with scissors)
basil (ripped by hand into rough shreds)


First, make the fresh pasta. (If you don't know how, you're probably going to need something a little more precise than the instructions below. Ironically, it's one of those things that's trivial to demonstrate and hard to write about.)

Dump the flour in a bowl. Make a well. Crack an egg into it. Add some salt. With a fork whip the egg, incorporating the flour as it goes by. Do NOT add water. Use your hands when it looks mixed in. Knead the dough to a silky mass adding only the tiniest amount of flour to make your hands not stick.

Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

Using a pasta maker, crank the dough repeatedly through all settings down to 5.

(Pasta machines have a scale from 1-8. One is coarsest and eight is finest. The reason to not crank it down to 5 straight away is that each pass through "kneads" the dough correctly to make it smooth and uniform. So you need to go through 1-2-3-4-5. Experienced chefs even repeat the 1 and 2 folding the dough into "threes" if they want a particularly refined pasta.)

Do not make it too thin. Cut into long thick ribbons and lay out on a tray to dry for at least an hour or even more in summer if it is humid. Two to three hours is preferable. The dough must dry out substantially otherwise it will fall apart.

(Yes, the CC knows that this is not stracci which refers to "rags" — irregularly cut pasta. You can cut the thick ribbons into irregular pieces. To make a true stracci, you'd have to hand-roll the pasta. If your spirit is willing and your flesh not weak, go for it!)

Then make the fresh seafood ragú.

Put the clams in a pot with half a cup of water. Heat them at high heat till they open. Fish out each one as it opens. Shuck them making sure to retain the liquid. Pass the liquid from the clams as well as the liquid from the pot through a paper towel (to eliminate the sand) and retain the liquid.

(The reason to shuck the clams is so that the shell doesn't tear the delicate pasta. With dried pasta, the clams are tossed with the shell to good effect but here we're working with fresh pasta and the clam shells would tear the pasta into shreds which we don't want.)

Heat up some olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and red chili and let it fry for about 6 minutes at low heat. Make sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the white wine and the clam juice from above and let it reduce a bit.

Toss in the cherry tomatoes and let cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and basil strips and let cook till it is reduced somewhat.

Now make the pasta. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and let it cook. 3 minutes no more.

While the pasta is cooking, add the raw seafood, cooked clams and the saffron to the hot ragú. Do not overcook. You can even turn off the heat if the sauce is hot enough.

Drain the pasta and toss everything together. Add the torn basil and black pepper. Serve at once.

No comments: