Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Strangozzi Marinara with Prawns and Monkfish

Seafood pastas are basics of Italian gastronomy, and vary enormously from region to region: Spaghetti Vongole from Naples, Spaghetti al Nero di Sepia from Venice, Pasta con Le Cozze e Patelle from Positano and Pasta con Polpa di Ricci from Puglia. The only culinary credo is using the freshest fish and seafood. Often called the "poor man's lobster", monkfish is also a succulent addition to any seafood pasta. Served with sweet plump prawns and a homemade marinara sauce spiked with a little Pernod, the flavours are a rich and delicious tribute to Neptune's bounty, especially served on a tangled bed of Umbrian strangozzi. Slightly thicker than spaghetti, strangozzi is derived from the verb strangolare which means 'to strangle' in Italian. Legend has it that this was the pasta served to the parish priests when they dined at the homes of the parishioners. They would serve the priests large quantities of strangozzi to strangle their appetite, but then there are several variations of this legend, some a little more macabre!

Strangozzi di Pescatrice e Gamberi

Serves 2

1 monkfish tail, cut into 1-inch medallions then cut in half
12-18 prawns, cleaned, deveined and shelled
2 cups homemade Marinara Sauce, or see recipe below
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp Pernod
3 tbsp chopped parsley 
1 lb Strangozzi or Spaghettoni

Warm the homemade Marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium low, until warmed through then turn to low and cover until needed. Season with monkfish and prawns with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and set a pot of water over high heat and bring to the boil. 

Pour some olive oil in a sauté pan with tall sides over medium heat and once warm, add the monkfish and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they become opaque and partially cooked through, then add the prawns and cook for 3-4 minutes. Spoon about a cup of the marinara sauce into the seafood and turn to coat. Turn the heat to low and splash in a little Pernod and half of the chopped parsley to taste, stirring well. 

When ready, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente, or according to the package instructions. Using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta to the seafood and top with the remaining Marinara sauce, and stir well to combine. Serve in warmed bowls with a garnish of fresh parsley.  

Marinara Sauce
Serves 4

1 tbsp good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper, then cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 15 minutes.

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