Cernia alla Livornese

Livorno, Italy is a mariners' town. The traditional dishes of the Tuscan port city are frill-free -- simple, hearty fishermen's fare -- heavily influenced by proximity to the sea and the region's local ingredients. Here, fish, olives, and wine take to one plate in a Livornese specialty: Cernia alla Livornese. Deliciously simple, it's a perfect expression of the reverence for great, fresh ingredients that is the cornerstone of Italian cuisine. A white fish (typically grouper, sea bass, red snapper or another mild, local variety) is simmered in a bright tomato-white wine broth that is bolstered with sauteed onions, olives, fresh parsley and crushed red pepper. I particularly love how the salty punctuations of the olives complement the sweet, buttery flesh of the fish (and having some crusty bread on hand to mop up the tomato-wine broth at the end is highly encouraged.)

[Adapted from Saveur]

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced 
1 1/2 lb hake filet (grouper, or red snapper also delicious) 
1⁄4 cup dry white wine 
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes (or use fresh)
1⁄3 cup pitted kalmata olives 
1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped 
Pinch red pepper flakes  
Wilted arugula, to serve

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are fragrant and slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Add fish, skinned side up, and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Turn fish and cook other side another 2 minutes.

2. Add wine, tomatoes, olives, half the parsley, and red pepper flakes to the skillet with the fish. Sprinkle with salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until fish is just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, spooning sauce over fish as it cooks. Uncover and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

3. Serve warm (over a bed of wilted arugula or another green, if you like), and have crusty bread on hand to mop up the juices.

1 comment:

  1. I swear I can smell the Adriatic looking at that. I think all the deep frying I did yesterday is leaving my blood crying for something like this.