When Chef Gianni Bono was invited to cook at Slow Fish Genova 2013, an event held in honor of the newly appointed Minister or Agriculture, he decided to use the humble fried anchovy as the cornerstone of his dish.
Actually, it is no surprise that Chef Bono chose the anchovy as the star of his creation. Anchovies are a staple of the Mediterranean diet and of many Italian dishes in particular. At one time it was the most common fish because it could be preserved in oil or salt. Today anchovies are often served as appetizers or as a main dish accompanied by fresh greens. They are easily adapt to being stuffed, salted, pickled and are also made into anchovy paste.
The anchovy is also a very healthy fish, part of the family of bluefish, and is rich in omega-three fatty acids, protein, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorus and selenium. It’s a flavorful fish that is found in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean.
Although this is not the easiest dish to prepare, its special filling and quality ingredients make for an exceptional flavor that is sure to please and is a recipe that Chef Bono is quite proud of.
To fry the fish for this dish the chef prefers to use peanut oil because it maintains a high smoking point of 230 degrees and allows more fish to be fried before changing the oil again.
The filling is a mixture of potatoes, Sauris ham and buffalo mozzarella which works perfectly with the crispness of the fried fish to create a harmony of both flavor and texture.
Sauris Ham, ‘Prosciutto di Sauris’ in Italian, is a savory smoked ham that is aged for at least ten months which comes from the town of Sauris in Friuli Venezia Giulia in the north-east of the country.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Cost: 25 €
Prepare the potatoes:
First wash the potatoes under running water, place them in a 26 x 14cm pot and cover with 5 liters of cold water bringing them to a boil and let simmer for another 25 minutes, then drain and let them cool. Discard the outer skins with the help of a paring knife or peeler and put them in a potato masher and create a lump free pure (the chef recommends mashing them three times).
Clean the anchovies:
Remove the entrails and head under running water and press with your thumb in the belly of the fish with a vertical movement from top to bottom to remove the central bone, being careful to leave the two sides of the fish attached.
Lay the fillets in a colander upside down in order to drain them well. Prepare the filling:
Cut the mozzarella into small pieces and add to the mashed potatoes. Grate a lemon for some zest (being careful not to get the white part), add the milk, Parmesan cheese, oregano and marjoram. Mix together then add a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix again.
Once the filling is ready place it in the refrigerator for one hour to help combine the flavors.
Prepare the stuffed anchovies:
Take a sheet of parchment paper and place it on a working surface like the counter or a table. Lay out 16 anchovy fillets maintaining a distance of 5cm between one row and the other. Take the potato filling from the refrigerator and form croquettes about 5cm by 4cm and put them in the fish fillets. When all 16 fillets have been filled, cover and proceed to stuff the next 16 fillets. Fill three plates each with flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs. Coat each stuffed anchovy first with the flour and then the egg and breadcrumbs so that they are sealed. Once all of the anchovies have been breaded, put them in a large skillet with the heated oil and fry till golden.
Put three breaded fillets on each plate and garnish with tuiles of purple potatoes and crispy leek disks.
chef Gianni Bono