Frutti di mare is a classic Italian dish that is comprised of rich and flavorful red sauce, sautéed fish, large and juicy shrimp, salty anchovies, and briny mussels, together with long, tender noodles.
This dish is best on a weeknight dinner or just a portion of food to serve to impress partygoers in your house during a food tasting party. This fantastic dish can be done and served in around half-hour.
As a classic pasta dish, Frutti di mare is always known as a medley of seafood, including mussels, scallops, clams, shrimp, and squid.
This famous delicacy also uses a wide variety of fresh fish found along the Italian coasts. It is a savory food that makes the flavor of the shellfish shine and comes out every mouthful of serving.
Top chef Massimo Bottura of MasterClass recommended some tips for making Frutti di Mare. According to him, Frutti di mare pasta is an easy meal to customize depending on the variety of fish or pasta you like.
“Though it’s a simple dish that is difficult to do wrong, there are a few things you can do to make sure your frutti di mare pasta is the best it can be,” he said.
Some tips in cooking Frutti di Mare
1. Frutti di Mare can be done as an easy dish homemade pasta for added freshness. Lessen the pasta boiling time to 1 to 3 minutes if you want to utilize a fresh pasta than the dried one.
Place cooked pasta to the sauce right before the dish is done to prevent overcooking. Add salt to your sauce sparingly.
“As you cook the fish for your frutti di mare, the shellfish will release reserves of saltwater into the sauce, which––in addition to the salted pasta water––may provide all of the salt that the fish needs. Salt the dish after you incorporate the pasta and pasta water, which will prevent the dish from becoming overly salty,” said Bottura.
It is strongly advised to use local and fresh seafood for this dish.
This is recommended because the flavor and quality of the seafood used in this simple dish can make or break it.
“If you don’t live in an area where fresh seafood is readily available, opt for the highest-quality frozen seafood you can find,” he said.
2. Take notice of dead mollusks. According to the top Italian restaurateur and the chef patron of Osteria Francescana, dead clams and mussels “aren’t safe for consumption, so it’s important to check for any dead specimens before eating.”
“When shopping for clams and mussels, make sure the shells are shut tight. Any mollusks that haven’t opened their shells during the cooking process are likely dead and should be discarded before you serve the dish,” said Bottura, whose three-Michelin-star restaurant based in Modena, Italy is listed in the top 5 at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards since 2010 and received top ratings from Gambero Rosso, the Touring Club guides, and L’Espresso.
3. Don’t forget the anchovies. Bottura said the anchovies can add rich flavor to sauce. “While the anchovy fillets––which can be purchased in the canned seafood section of any grocery store––are optional in this recipe, these deeply briny fish will add depth to this simple sauce,” he said.
Background of Frutti di mare
Frutti di mare simply means “fruit of the sea,” and refers to seafood.
Italy is destined to feature seafood strongly in its dishes as entrees or antipasto in terms of its geography.
The characteristic of the region leads it to boost its seafood-based dishes. The region is surrounded by the Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, and Ionian Seas and juts into the Mediterranean Sea.
Seafood figures prominently in Italian cuisine, prepared as antipasto or entrees all over the country.
According to Tuscana LSC, as Tuscany’s western edge borders the sea and as such, “you’ll find popular seafood dishes such as fish stew cacciuccio alla Livornese. “
In Central Italy, seafood is also featured heavily, with much seafood in their dishes and rustic pastas and egg dishes.
“Southern Italian cuisine, with the sea surrounding it, offers much in terms of seafood. In almost all regions of Southern Italy, you’ll find grilled ocean-fresh seafood, such as fish fried in olive oil,” it added.
Seafoods are also rich in Sicily and Sardinia and Sicily. The foods in these areas are combined with the influence of Arab, Spanish, and Greek cuisines.
In preparing this type of dish, just make sure that the fish or plates of seafood are the central products.
Frutti di Mare means Fruit of the Sea, representing a dish with a myriad of seafood flavors popular along the coast of Italy. While this dish can include all types of seafood, the most popular seem to be shellfish. When purchased fresh, already scrubbed, and cleaned, shellfish can lead to a quick and easy meal.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
juice from 1 lemon
1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with juice
Salt and black pepper
1 lb. mussels (scrubbed)
1 lb. clams (scrubbed)
One dozen medium to large shrimp, shelled, deveined and tails removed
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Steps in cooking:
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots and garlic with crushed pepper for about 2 minutes, stirring to make sure the garlic does not brown. Add the wine and lemon juice and let reduce, about 45 seconds. Add a pinch of salt and turn the heat to medium-high.
- Add the Italian tomatoes and bring sauce to a medium simmer. Add clams and mussels and place the lid over the pan. Lift lid to stir clams and mussels every one minute.
- After about 2 minutes, or when first clams and mussels begin to open, add shrimp. Cook another 3 minutes, or until all shells have opened and shrimp is firm.
- Remove any unopened shells.
- Add parsley to the sauce and shake the pan to coat. Serve over pasta or with grilled or toasted peasant bread to dip.