First, a story…….(I’m notorious for this, just bear with me…if you want, you can just skip down to the recipe, I won’t be offended =)
Picture it, Sicily, 2007. It was the first Italian wedding that I had been invited to. A very close friend of my husband was getting married, and we would soon follow 4 months later, so I was eager to experience this for the first times as a guest, not just yet as a bride! The reception hall was beautiful, the round tables were decorated to perfection, everyone was seated and it was announced the feasting would begin with the appetizers. There I was, seated next to my soon-to-be husband, Italian flying everywhere…not a word of which I could understand. But I wasn’t worried, I could SEE couldn’t I? What I couldn’t understand verbally, I would understand by looking at the food! Food is a universal language, right? As our server was approaching our table (of 10 people) he was holding a large, I mean large, silver platter with what appeared to look……..a head? A head?! A head of what, I was thinking? Then, like a royal coronation of a king, he placed the platter in the center of the table where all eyes landed, and there sat…..an octopus…head, tentacles, all! I think my eyes must have given the clue that I had never eaten, nor for that matter have even seen, a octopus ten inches from me. My then fiancé turned to me and reassured it was dead, and cooked, ready to be cut up and eaten alongside a garlic, parsley, and olive oil sauce. Wanting to be brave, I cut up a tentacle and dunked it in its sauce. And boy, oh boy……I tell you…..till this day, it’s since been one of my favorite Italian dishes! As they say, “It was the beginning of a beauuutiful friendship” =) =)
Now back to the recipe…..
Here, I used pesce Orate. I googled pesce Orate (pesh-shey or-ra-teh) to find its English name, and one contributor on Yahoo Answers wrote, “Depending on what country you’re in, bream can be different things. In the U.S. though, when people say “bream” they’re normally referring to bluegills and other sunfish.” I found this fish to be tender, not firm like say, salmon, but boy was it flavorful =)
What you will need:
-3 to 4 whole small fish (6 inches or so in length) cleaned of gills, guts, etc.
-1 cup of dry white wine for the initial marination, another 1\2 cup when cooking fish. (or you can substitute with 1\2 cup sweet white wine for the initial marination, then another 1\2 cup when cooking.)
-6 to 7 whole bay leaves
-4 to 5 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
-1 large lemon, thinly sliced
-salt\pepper to taste
-10 to 12 garlic cloves (depending on your garlic preference and size of the pieces), peeled, and smashed
– half a head of fresh fennel, sliced (or you can omit if you can’t find fresh fennel)
– a handful of italian parsley
-3 TBSP olive oil
Here’s how you prepare it……
In a glass pan, or any pan you normally marinate in, lay some lemon slices all long the bottom of the pan. Stuff each fish with a lemon slice or two, a bit of garlic, some parsley, and a bit of fennel. Lay on top of the lemon slices in the pan. Randomly throw in the tomatoes, fennel, and any left over parsley, lemon, and garlic you have left. Or add the amount of each ingredient that you prefer. Like me, I always tend to add a bit more garlic. I loooooovvveeee garlic. Next, pour in the white wine all over the fishes. Drizzle the olive oil on top as well. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours, or all night long (like I often do).
When ready to cook, I guess you can bake it, but I always just use a pan on the stove top. For the stove top method: Place a little olive oil in a frying pan. If you have a ceramic pan, that’s the best pan to use. If not, any non stick pan will do. Using large tongs or a large cooking spatula, carefully lift and place all the fish in the frying pan so they will fit. Then place all the left over ingredients from the marination on top of the fish and around as well. Drizzle the remaining wine (1\2 cup) Add a little more olive oil on top of each fish, cover with a lid and cook on medium low heat until fish flakes.
What I like about his recipe is that it brings out the natural flavor of the fish. So go ahead and try it!