Monday, July 17, 2006

Insalata di Mare – Italian Seafood Salad

This recipe is a bit more time consuming to prepare than my other recipes in the cool summer series however, Insalata di Mare is a tasty way to work seafood into your weekly routine. This salad is so popular that most restaurants and delicatessens in Italy prepare Insalata di Mare all year round as an appetizer. Just about any shellfish is appropriate and the recipe will change across the Italian peninsula based on what is locally available. It has a slightly acidic base that gives it a clean and fresh taste and is generally very easy to prepare.

I would only use fresh seafood to prepare this salad. The canned versions will not have the right texture and most likely lost their nutritional value in the canning process. Frozen seafood will work well but remember to reduce the cooking time as the meat breaks down just a bit during the freezing process. Overcooked shellfish is definitely not a good thing. It will be like eating erasers. This salad is also a marvelous match for a Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Greco di Tufo or Tocai Friulano.

Ingredients for 10 servings:

1 lb (450 gr.) Cuttlefish (Seppie)
12 oz (300 gr.) Octopus (Polpo)
1 lb (450 gr.) Calamari
1 lb (450 gr.) Shrimp (Gamberetti)
2 lb (1 kg.) Long Neck Clams (Vongole)
2 lb. (1 kg.) Mussels (Cozze)
2 oz. (60 gr.) Capers (Caperi)
1 medium pickle diced in small pieces
½ cup Spring Onions pickled or under oil
1 head chopped parsley
1 clove garlic
½ cup Olive Oil
juice from 2 large lemons
4 leaves of basil
¼ teaspoon Tabasco
¼ cup Vinegar


Place the long neck clams in room temperature salted water for about 45 minutes. As the clam takes in the water it will eliminate any residual sand that may be in the clam. Some stores will keep the clams in salt water before sale. These clams do not need the this step.

Place the lemon juice in a small glass bowl with the 1 clove of garlic. Crush the garlic just to break the skin. Let the Lemon juice-garlic to sit for 1/2 hour. Remove the garlic.

Clean the Cuttlefish, calamari and octopus. Scrub the shells of the mussels and long neck clams. Throw away any Mussels or Clams with broken shells.

Fill a large pot 3/4 full. Pour in the vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the Mussels, Clams, Cuttlefish, Calamari, and Octopus to the water. When the water boils reduce to medium high heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the seafood from the water with a strainer and set aside. Cook the shrimp in the same water for 3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and remove the shells.

Cut the Calamari, Cuttlefish and Octopus into bite-sized pieces.

In a large skillet place the Mussels and the Clams. Turn the heat on high and cover. Cook until the shells are all open. Shake the skillet ever 30 seconds to move the shellfish around. Throw away any shellfish that do not open when heated. Remove from heat and let the shellfish cool.

When cool enough to work with remove the meat from 3/4 of the shellfish. The remaining 1/4 should be left on the half shell for presentation.

In a large bowl place all of the seafood meat, the diced pickle, the spring onion, the finely chopped parsley, and the capers. Salt and pepper generously. Mix the ingredients quickly. Add the 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco to the lemon. Pour both the lemon mixture and the oil evenly over the mixed ingredients. Stir together with large spoons.

Add the remaining Mussels and Clams on the half shell to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Serving: Let sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour before serving.


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Blogger a.c.t said...

I love this but I've had bad ones and really good ones too. It really does depend on the quality and freshness of the ingredients. I wouldn't even bother with frozen as it's bares no resemblence to fresh at all.

9:16 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ACT I agree fresh is always better. There are so many things that can go wrong with frozen seafood that it probably is not worth the risk.

1:30 PM


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