Still talking about being in the Puglia – Apulia region (see previous Puglia articles), there’s a dish that many may not have heard of but are quite familiar with – Spaghetti allo Scoglio (literally: rock/reef) but often known as Spaghetti ai frutti di mare – “fruits of the sea.”
This is usually one of the more expensive dishes in an Italian restaurant, and when you see how many different, fresh pieces come together, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s worth it! My mother-in-law makes this with fresh homemade spaghetti “troccoli” and her Troccolli allo Scoglio have won over many a seafood lover.
We were at a friend’s countryside “house” – a house that is big enough to be functional for important things like sleeping and eating, but more important is what surrounds this little house. Mere meters from the sea and surrounded by olive trees on all sides, it has a huge patio and grill for frequent gatherings. A big group was getting together for no reason at all, and eating a big, homemade meal was the focus!
Since we were in a town on the sea, they procured all the fresh ingredients from the local fisherman, even if the fishermen themselves had to go far to get it! Many parts of the Mediterranean close to the coast are “fished out” and the fisherman have to go further to meet demand. Some even go as far as Croatia.
As you read this, I want you to think – do you like to make Spaghetti ai frutti di mare? Do you use fresh seafood every time? What additions/special touches do you make to the recipe at your house? And, most importantly, do you suck the heads of the crawfish, or throw them away?
Spaghetti allo Scoglio – ai frutti di mare – Fresh Seafood Pasta
Recipe from Master Chef Tommaso, serves 4
500g clams (vongole)
500g mussels (cozze)
400g prawns (scampi), with heads removed
400g crawfish (gamberoni)
300g squid (calamari), cut into rings
70-100g tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic
parsley, bunch chopped
5T. olive oil
Hot pepper (optional)
- Boil the clams and mussels, separately, to open them. Strain and conserve the cooking water. Notes on preparing fresh shellfish: Soak the clams in fresh water for 6-8 hours to clean beforehand, and clean outside of mussels first. Here are some good step-by-step instructions for cleaning clams/mussels.
- In another (very large) frying pan, brown the garlic cloves in the oil, and add the tomato sauce (not too much because you just want to give it a little color, not make it a red sauce), then the calmari and some of the fresh parsley. Cook for 20 minutes, adding water if it becomes too dry.
- Add the mussels, clams and some of the water from step 1. After 5 minutes, add the scampi and crawfish, using more of the water to keep it liquid and cook for 10 minutes. Start your water to boil the pasta.
- Add two large handfuls of fresh parsley and hot pepper if desired. Boil pasta and drain 2 minutes before the recommended cooking time. Add drained pasta to the seafood mix, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
You can scale this up for a large party – as you can see, there were lots of us there that night!
So…do you suck the heads or not? How do you make this dish?