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Mixed Fried Fish Recipe - Fritto Misto di Mare - Italian Mixed Fried Fish


Fritto Misto di Mare, or Mixed Fried Fish: Little can be more refreshing, or more picturesque, than a fritto misto di mare on the coast. It requires absolutely fresh fish however, and care too, because otherwise it becomes heavy and difficult on the digestion. The traditional fritto misto includes representatives of most of the watery families, including mollusks and arthropods. There's also what's known as...

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes


  • Lots of fish (see below for kinds)
  • Oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges
  • Flour, or, if you want, batter (see below)
  • Salt


... a fritto di paranza, which is just very small (2 inch long including head and tail) fish rolled in flour, fried, and served with lemon wedges. You eat them heads and all (unless they're a little larger than normal), and purists frown on cleaning the fish because the intestines provide a slightly sharp flavor contrast. I prefer my fish cleaned and you may well too. But if the heads are small they're pleasingly crunchy, and the tails are perfect handles.

In any case, to make a fritto di paranza to serve six you'll need about 2 pounds (1 k) of assorted tiny, minnow-sized fish. To make a more standard fritto di mare you'll need 2 1/2 pounds (1.2 k) of mixed small fish, including fresh sardines and anchovies, baby squid, baby cuttlefish, small crabs, scampi and other assorted crustaceans, reef mullet and tiny whiting, sole, and whatever else your fishmonger suggests.

You'll also need 2 cups flour for rolling the fish, abundant oil (it's best to fry in several pots so what fries first will still be hot when the last things are cooked), salt, several lemons cut into wedges, and sprigs of fresh parsley to serve as garnish.

Wash, clean and pat the fish dry. You can bone the minnows, opening up like a book to remove the spines, but it's not indispensable. If you are using something like sole, filet it. Cut away the mouth parts of the squid and cuttlefish, remove the innards without breaking the ink sacks (you can use them to make a risotto with squid ink), and remove the bones from the cuttlefish (give them to a friend who keeps caged birds). Cut the bodies of the mollusks into rings, and keep the tentacles together in bunches. Shell or don't shell the crustaceans depending upon how hard their shells are.

Coat the fish thoroughly with flour and fry it, beginning with the mollusks and then the crustaceans, followed by the larger and then the smaller fish. As the fish rise to the surface and turn golden remove them with a strainer and drain them on absorbent paper. Transfer the fish to a platter, season it with salt, garnish it with parsley, and serve it with the lemon wedges and a chilled bottle of Trebbiano di Romagna or Castelli Romani. Or, if you want to splurge, a nice Gavi di Gavi.

Other Favorite Summer Fish Recipes
Other Favorite Summer Recipes

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