When I say little fish fry, I am talking about the diminutive size of the silvery fish I fried to whet our appetite for the main course the other night.
The other day as I was strolling through the streets of my new temporary home of Cortona, my friend Shawn called and asked if I would like to leave the grand Etruscan walls, and venture to the food Co-Op in Camucia. “Why not!” I said, and was picked up minutes later.
I had been here for about a month now, and had never had an opportunity to go to the Co-Op everyone raved about. I was looking forward to perusing the vegetables and buying some fresh fish for dinner.
The space was enormous, and I was overwhelmed, considering the only places I had been buying my groceries was from the little specialty shops in my little hilltop town. Where to begin?
I only had 30 minutes to take it all in, so I decided to skip everything and concentrate on fresh produce, and fish.
The fish counter was pretty amazing with all sorts of fish doing their best to tempt me. I settled on the humblest of creatures; a tiny silvery fish called a lattrino. It comes from Lake Bolsena in the province of Lazio, just outside of Rome. I also found out there is a big festival dedicated to this fish in May, and, after tasting handfuls of them the other night, I can see why!
I cooked them before I did any research as to how they are traditionally prepared in Italy. I was very pleased when I discovered that my method would have pleased any Italy Nonni.
*This recipe would work for any tiny little fish. All you need is lots of olive oil and lemon juice!
You will need: 1 lb lattarino fish (or any small white fish), 1 or 2 lemons, quartered, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup (approx) extra-virgin olive oil.
1 – Rinse fish throughly in a colander with lots of running water (may be sandy and gritty). Let them drain, and transfer to a big plate with paper towels or tea cloth. Dry as best as you can.
2 – Put the flour into a big bowl with a little salt and pepper, and toss the fish into the mixture. Coat each fish with flour.
3 – Put big saute pan on high heat and add 1/2 of the oil when pan is hot. Let the oil get hot and add between 1/3 and 1/2 of the fish in an even layer (this depends on the size of your pan). Cook until crispy on both sides (about 4 minutes). Transfer to plate lined with a paper towel, and squeeze with tons of lemon juice.
We ate the fish as they came off of the pan (the crispier the better). You can keep them warm in the oven until all of the fish are fried, and them serve in one grand flourish.