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Fresh Fish Recipes: Whole Fish

Italy is water-bound, with thousands of miles of beaches, bays, and inlets. Almost everything that swims, from swordfish to sardines, finds its way to the table. Here you will find Italian recipes for fresh, whole fish.

An Anchovy Frittata: Alici in Frittata
Fresh anchovies are quite tasty, and this simple fish frittata will be nice either as an antipasto or as the main course of a light meal.

Informative as always, Julia Childs warns not to buy more than you can use quickly and then says how to prepare them.

Bagiggi, a kind of small fry, and how to fry them
Got lots of tiny fish on hand? One of the tastiest things to do is fry them up!

Baked Anchovies -- Acciughe in Forno
Baked Anchovies, or Acciughe in Forno: Versilia, being a coastal plain, has lots of fish recipes. Purists who make this recipe don't clean the anchovies, though I think I would. You will in any case need about a 1 1/2 pounds (700 g) of large fresh anchovies to feed four.

Baked Eel with Butter and Sage, Anguilla con Burro e Salvia
Eel is one of the most classic Christmas fish in Italy, and many feel that a Christmas Eve dinner without eel isn't quite right. Not that you must wait for Christmas to enjoy this baked eel recipe, which is quite easy and very tasty.

Baked Fish with Olives, or Pesce al Forno Con Le Olive
Plain baked fish can be wonderful. However, there are many ways to jazz it up, and spreading a little olive paste over it is quite a nice touch. The recipe will work with both whole fish and fish steaks.

Baked Royal Dorade
This recipe was kindly given me by Prince Philippe Poniatowski, who makes superb Vouvray at Le Clos Baudoin.

Baked Sea Bass, or Spigola al Forno
Sea Bass is quite versatile, but when it's quite fresh, simplicity is best.

Baked Snapper -- Spigola Arrosto
This is an interesting variation on the standard roasted fish one generally encounters in Italy, which simply has rosemary and lemon in the cavity, and a little more rosemary and lemon outside. Here there are anchovy filets instead; the dish will work with any kind of fish, and is perfect for a special occasion. To serve 6 you will need:

Bogues in Tomato Sauce: Boghe al Pomodoro
Bogues are simple fish, and take quite well to being cooked up with tomato sauce. This recipe will adapt well to other kinds of fish as well.

Bronze Bream in Tomato Sauce Recipe - Paganello al Pomodoro
Fish and tomato work very well together, and there are therefore a great many variations on the theme. This bream is roasted with tomatoes.

Catanian Stuffed Sardines -- Sarde a Beccafico Catanesi
Catanian Stuffed Sardines, or Sarde a Beccafico Catanesi: Lenore writes, "Have a question: Have you ever heard of Sarde a beccafico (Stuffed sardines). This is very traditional Sicilian dish, where the cleaned sardines are served "open-face" filled with breadcrumbs, pinoli (pine nuts), passolina, sugar, and lemon juice. Many people add egg to the other ingredients to hold the filling together. The characteristic sour-sweet taste comes marinating the fish in lemon juice."

Dentex Stuffed with Oranges -- Dentice Farcito all'Arancia
Dentex Stuffed with Oranges, or Dentice Farcito all'Arancia: A simple, elegant recipe for stuffed fish with an unusual filling. Dentice, known in English as dentex, is one of the more delicate Mediterranean fish. Sea bream might work in its stead, or porgy.

Eel Grilled or Fried Eel -- Capitone Arrosto o Fritto
Eel meat is oilier than that of many fish, and is consequently ideally suited to the grill. This recipe is an indispensable part of the Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner.

Fish Florentine
In other words, with spinach. In Florence fish with spinach is called "inzimino" and generally features octopus. This doesn't so the name mystifies me.

Fish Stew With Sweet Spices and Almond Couscous
"Using the quick-cooking couscous sold in the United States, this elaborate-seeming recipe ends up taking only about 45 minutes to prepare."

Fresh Salmon -- Salmone Fresco
Fresh Salmon, Salmone Fresco: This recipe is drawn from a volume entitled Il Cuoco Piemontese, which was published in 1766, and was one of the first books written in Italian to present French recipes. Though the book mentions quite a few fish, most only get one recipe Salmon instead gets two, one of which offers many possibilities.

Garfish or Needle Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce: Aguglie col Salmoriglio
Tasty grilled needle fish or gar-fish, with a lemony herby sauce. Quite nice!

Gilthead Sea Bream Bari Style, Orata All'Uso di Bari
At tasty fish, marinated in herbs and simmered in wine. Elelgant, and ideal for company too.

Grilled Trout, or Trota in Gradela
Grilled Trout, or Trota in Gradela: This recipe from the Vicentino calls for fario trout, a variety that lives close to the bottom, in running water. They rarely exceed 8 inched in length, reach maturity at 2-3 years of age, and have firm, delicately flavored flesh ideally suited to the grill. In short, ideal for home or campground.

Grouper with Bell Peppers, or Cernia Coi Peperoni
Groupers are quite tasty, and relatively bone-free. They take well to being roasted, and are nice with bell peppers and onions.

Grouper with Potatoes, or Cernia con Patate
Groupers are quite tasty, and relatively bone-free. They take well to being roasted, and are nice with potaotes.

How to Flavor Fish Stew
Erica De Mane has many tasty suggestions

How To Salt Anchovies
The spring and summer anchovy harvest was vital to Ligurian fishermen, who salted much of the catch to carry them through less abundant times. Here is how they salted (and salt) their anchovies. It's not difficult, and the results are superb.

Italian Jewish Stewed Gray Mullet Recipe - Cefali in Umido all'Ebraica
This stewed mullet recipe is one of the traditional dishes Italian Jews prepare for Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles. Quite tasty, and one needn't await the Holiday to prepare it.

Lemony Fried Eel Recipe - Capitone Fritto Col Limone
In many parts of Italy it is custom to eat fish on Christmas Eve, and though there is no set menu, Capitone, or eel, is extremely popular. This recipe for lemony fried eel is Neapolitan.

Mackerel with Wild Fennel -- Sgombri al Finocchio Selvatico
The Marche is a coastal region and it should come as no surprise that fish plays an important part of the diet along the coast (since fresh fish doesn't travel well, inland people ate baccalà or snails on days when meats were prohibited). Much of what the fishermen ate were small fish, salted, because they sold the more prestigious elements of their daily catch. Someone who was a little better off might have enjoyed this mackerel, with wild fennel from the mountains inland. To serve 4:

Mama Grande's Stuffed Sole
With crab meat, baby clams, and more.

Mormora al Cartoccio
Sea Bream, stuffed with olives can capers, marinated, and baked in a pouch. Easy to do, and a delight to open at table.

Ombrina All'Acquapazza
Ombrina is good, but you could use sea bass if need be to make this tasty stewed fish recipe.

Palermo's Sarde a Beccafico -- Sarde a Beccafico Palermitani
Palermo's Sarde a Beccafico -- Sarde a Beccafico Palermitani

Pandora Roasted in Aromatic Salt, Pagello Al Sale Aromatico
Salt roasting is a very simple technique. However, one can flavor the salt, which will then impart delightful flavor to the food (Pandora in this case) as well.

Pickled Mackerel, Sgomberi All'Aceto
This isn't quite pickling -- the fish isn't in the vinegar for that long -- but it is a tasty way to prepare mackerel in the summer, and will substantially reduce its fattiness. You could serve this either as a main course or an antipasto.

Poor Man's Anchovies, or Acciughe Alla Povera
A simple anchovy antipasto made with fresh anchovies. Quite tasty!

Ray Salad with Chickpeas - Insalata di Razza Con Ceci
As fish go, rays are not particularly prized: the skin is tough, and it is covered with a protective mucus layer that must be removed: Italian fishmongers usually take care of this. Also, given a choice, select smaller rather than larger rays. One generally eats either the liver or the wings. Got some wings? How about Insalata di Razza Con Ceci, Ray Salad with Chickpeas?

Red Snapper alla Livornese
Snapper cooked in tomato sauce with olives and capers (in Livorno you will also find it with just tomato and hot pepper).

Reef Mullet Al Cartoccio -- Triglie al Cartoccio
Reef Mullet Al Cartoccio, or Triglie al Cartoccio: Bright red reef mullet look so pretty at the table, and taste so good, that it's well worth picking through their many bones. This recipe is Versilian, from the coastal plain north of Pisa.

Reef Mullet in Packets -- Triglie al Cartoccio
Reef mullet are smallish bright red fish that swim about reefs, as their name implies. They are quite flavorful, and this is their downfall, because despite their many spines, people eagerly seek them out. This recipe is from the Veneto, and it has you wrap the fish in aluminum foil before you roast them. Serve them wrapped in their foil, which your diners will be able to peel back at table, bringing up a heady burst of aromas.

Reef Mullet Livorno Style, or Triglie alla Livornese
Reef mullet are bony, but also quite tasty, do very well when cooked quickly in Livorno's zesty hot-pepper-laced tomato sauce.

Reef Mullet Mosaica Style -- Triglia alla Mosaica
This is a classic Italian Jewish dish, and will be perfect at Passover.

Reef Mullet with Olives and Bell Peppers, Triglie con Olive e...
Despite their having an inordinate number of spines, reef mullet are one of the most prized Italian fish, because they are extraordinarily tasty. Perhaps the best known way of preparing them is alla Livornese, but there are many other options, and they work very well with bell peppers and olives too.

Reef Mullet with Prosciutto Recipe - Triglie al Prosciutto
Reef mullet are among the brightest colored and tastiest smaller fish you'll find in Italian markets. They do have a drawback, however -- they are quite bony, and in many recipes one has to work though the bones to enjoy them. Here, however, they are boned before they are cooked. This reef mullet with prosciutto recipe is from the Marche.

Reef Mullet With Raisins and Pine Nuts -- Triglie con Uvette e Pinoli
Triglie con Uvette e Pinoli, Reef Mullet With Raisins and Pine Nuts: This is a Roman Yom Kippur recipe. The combination of pine nuts and raisins is quite old, and could easily date to Ancient Roman times (when the city boasted a Jewish community of more than 50,000).

Reef Mullet, Viareggio Style -- Triglie alla Viareggina
Mullet are extremely tasty, so tasty that it's worth putting up with their many spines. This is a simple Tuscan recipe for them, from the town of Viareggio.

Roast Fish -- Pesce al Forno
This is a procedure more than a recipe, and will work well with any sort of fish that takes well to being roasted. Fish availability changes remarkably from place to place; in the Italian seas the fish most prized for roasting are branzini, orate, saraghi, spigole, dentice, and cefali -- According to Alan Davidson's Mediterranean Seafood (Penguin Books), these are sea bass, gilt head bream, dentex, two-banded bream, and gray mullet.

Roast Gilthead Seabream With Spring Onions
Gilthead seabream is one of the most prized Mediterranean fish, and is delightful roasted. Here it gains depth and elegance from thyme, spring onions, and limes, which are becoming more common in Italian markets.

Roast Grouper, Cernia al Burro
Groupers can be rather large fish -- they range up to well over 20 pounds, and if you find one that large you will likely want to slice it into fish steaks and grill them. Quite tasty. However, if you have a smaller grouper, weighing 2 1/2 - 3 pounds (1.2 - 1.5 k) this baked grouper recipe is quite tasty, and you may find yourself making it often. It will also work well with other whole white-fleshed fish.

Roast Sea Bass with Herbs - Orata Al Forno Con Gli Aromi
Little is more spectacular than a really good sea bass. Though the modern recipe calls for olive oil, Venetians traditionally used butter instead.

Rustic Salt-Roasted Dentex Recipe - Dentice Alla Rustica
Dentice, dentex, is one of the most prized Mediterranean fish. Rich, flavorful, and gains a special something when prepared with this rustic capery sauce and salt roasted. If you live beyond the Mediterranean, Sea Bream is an excellent substitute.

Salmon Carpaccio With Mint and Celery Leaves
"Here's a carpaccio with Sicilian flavors," writes Erica De Mane. "Mint, I discovered when thinking up this dish, goes very well with the sweet and rich taste of salmon..."

Salmone in Crosta, or in Pastry
Salmon in a pastry crust: Quite elegant, and an excellent dish to serve company.

Sea Bass in a White Sauce: Muggine in Bianco
Striped sea bass in gelatin is a traditional Italian Passover dish, and also works quite nicely as an antipasto year round.

Sea Bass in Paper -- Orata al Cartoccio
Sea Bass in Paper, or Orata al Cartoccio: If you haven't cooked it yourself, being served a fish al cartoccio is a delightful experience, because then you get to carefully pull back the paper and discover what the cook has included. Italians will bake almost any kind of fish, including fish steaks, this way, and use their imaginations when it comes to the accompanying shellfish. Therefore, feel free to experiment. In particular...

Sea Bass Roasted in Paper -- Orata al Cartoccio
Orata al Cartoccio -- Sea Bass Roasted in Paper -- Orata al Cartoccio -- Sea Bass Roasted in Paper

Sea Bass with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers, Branzino con Pomodorini e...
Branzino, or sea bass, is a glorious fish: richly flavored, and not too oily, and it's no wonder that grilled branzino is a perennial favorite. Sea bass also roasts well, however, and here it is with cherry tomatoes and capers.

Snapper alla Livornese
Snapper alla Livornese: Bobby instead asked for sea bass or snapper Livornese -- in Livorno the dish is made with reef mullet, which are a pretty red and have a tremendous number of bones, but the sauce will be the same regardless of the fish you use. The fish should in any case be quite fresh.

Sole with Olives, or Sogliola Alle Olive
Sole is an extraordinarily versatile fish, and works beautifully with all sorts of ingredients. In this case, black olives.

Stella Foods' Anchovy Notes
Remarks about anchovies, including those from Spain. They also give recipes for Scottish anchovy sauce and a hot anchovy sauce.

Stewed Eel Comacchio Style, Anguilla in Umido All'Uso di Comacchio
Comacchio is one of the most important eel-producing regions of Italy. Pellegrino Artusi gives a stewed eel recipe, which is aimed at those with wood-burning stoves (he was writing in the 1890s). I am leaving unchanged, because it won't be too difficult to adapt to a modern range, and Artusi's recipes are delightful.

Stewed Eel Recipe, Anguilla Brodettato
A simple stewed eel recipe from Ferrara; the eel is stewed with tomatoes and onions.

Stewed Scad - Suri in Umido
Suri, or scad, are small to medium-sized fish, and Alan Davidson says to either fry them or treat them as you might a mackerel, adding that they're not as tasty as macherel, but are easier on the digestion. Don't want to fry them? How about making Suri in Umido, Stewed Scad?

Stuffed Sprat, Saraghine Ripiene
Sprat are slightly larger relatives of sardines, and are quite nice stuffed. Easy to prepare, too.

Sweet-and-Sour Hake, or Nasello in Agrodolce
Hake is a fine fish, and also good served cold. This recipe is an elaboration of Nasello in Carpione (marinated fried fish, also discussed here), and is an excellent antipasto or hot weather main dish.

Tomatoey Stewed Eel - Anguilla al Pomodoro
Eel is one of the standard elements in a Fish-based Christmas Eve dinner, what is often referred to as the Seven Fishes dinner. Tomatoey stewed eel is so good, however, that you won't want to limit it to the holidays.

Torrigiani Style Trout -- Trota Torigiani
Torrigiani Style Trout, or Trota Torigiani: Torrigiani was a well known gourmet who lived at the turn of the century; this is one of many recipes he invented.

Trout Dogana Style -- Trota alla Dogana
This is a recipe sent me by Alessandra Tiraboschi, who makes a fine white wine, Lugana, at Ca Lojera.

Tub Gurnard with Tomatoes and Capers, or Capone con Pomodori e Capperi
Simplicity in a pan, and when you cook this is a fine goal to strive for.

Tuna Tartare With Capers, Avocado, and Marjoram
"This is a variation on a tuna tartare I've been served at the Duane Park Café, in Tribeca in New York City. I like the way the avocado smooths out the flavor of the fish..." says Erica De Mane.

Tuna Tartare With Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette
"Here I've infused the fish with tomato and basil," says Erica De Mane, producing "a classic marriage of Mediterranean flavors."

Turbot in Guazzetto, Rombo in Guazzetto
Turbot, stewed with tomatoes and onion. Quite a tasty way to enjoy turbot, or sole.

Tuna Matalotta Style, With Tomatoes Recipe - Tonnu a la Matalotta
Tuna Matalotta Style, or Tonnu a la Matalotta: This recipe for tuna stewed with tomatoes is from the Favigiana area in Sicily, and should serve 6.

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