Brudet, the Brodetto of Bellaria-Igea Marina

Brodetto is the Riviera Romagnola’s traditional fish stew, and as is true for all regional specialties, there are many local variations. This is a fairly rich brodetto; to serve 4 you’ll need:

  • 4 1/2 pounds (2 k) mixed fish (see note below)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • A scant half cup (100 ml) olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley
  • A tablespoon of white wine vinegar or a half cup of dry white wine

The fish should be what’s locally available, fresh, and inexpensive — no need for renowned exotics here. Rather, what is flavorful, and in Bellaria they use, among others, cuttlefish, gray mullet, reef mullet, mackerel, bogue, scad, striped mullet, mantis shrimps (when in season), crabs, and sole. Scale and clean the fish as need be, wash it well, and cut up the larger fish while leaving the smaller ones whole.

Mince the garlic and parsley, finely slice the onion, and sauté the mixture in a broad fairly deep pot; when the onion has become translucent gold add the wine, and when it has evaporated, the tomato paste diluted in a couple of ladles of boiling water (you’ll want enough to cover the fish), and season everything with salt and pepper.

When the mixture comes to a boil add the fish, beginning with the cuttlefish. Simmer them covered for 10 minutes, and then add the larger pieces, cook a little longer, and then add the smaller pieces, keeping the pot covered between additions.

Raise the heat to a slightly brisker simmer and cook ten minutes more, then reduce the heat to a slower simmer and cook another 20, removing the lid for the last 10 to let the sauce thicken.

The major variation to this brodetto, enjoyed by some fishermen, was the addition of a few drops of vinegar and a finely sliced onion laid over the fish at the halfway point in the cooking — the onion made the dish seem sweeter.

Serve the brodetto over toasted bread, rubbed with a little garlic if you prefer.

About Brodetto and Other Brodetti

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Categories: First Courses from Emilia Romagna, Fish Recipes from Emilia Romagna, Fish Soups & Stews, Fish Stews and Other Mixed Fish Dishes

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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