Saturday, January 30, 2010

Little Fish, Big Meal

One of my favorite seasonal dishes of the early winter months is “gianchetti” in Ligurian dialect, known Italy-wide as “bianchetti” and in english, known as “white bait”. Bianchetti are newly born “pesce azzuro” (anchovies and sardines). They are fished only in the months of January and February, as not to endanger the fish population.

The idea of tiny transparent fish may not look or sound appealing, but inside they are packed with flavor and goodness.

Another dish for 2-4 people (depending on how much pasta you like!):

2-3 small artichokes (cut in quarters with fuzzy middle and hard outside leaves removed)

2 lemons

1/3 cup of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

200 grams of bianchetti

1/2 cup white wine

A small fistful of Italian parsley

peperoncino for a spicy taste

400 grams of pasta (preferably spaghetti)

Boil water in pasta pan (don’t forget a little salt!).

When cutting the artichokes, place them as you go in a bowl of cold water with a few squeezed lemon quarters. Keep them there until you are ready to cook them.

Mince the garlic and Italian parsley together.

In a saute pan, add the olive oil and the garlic/parsley mixture let sizzle over medium heat (about 2 minutes). Add the artichokes and let cook for about 3 minutes uncovered. Add the white wine, lower the heat and cover for about 3 more minutes.

This is a good point to add your pasta to the boiling water and cook for the time indicated on your pasta of choice.

Add the bianchetti. Mix constantly in the pan for about 2 minutes, then let sit for a minute, then stir again for a minute. If pasta is not quite ready, remove form the flame and cover.

Once the pasta is ready, add it and the bianchetti mixture to a large bowl. Add a little more olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon. Mix it all together and serve immediately.



Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I love White Bait, and this recipe sounds just right ..I am not sure that my husband would try it, but I think my mother-in-law would :-)

Jill said...

Yum, I usually make these little guys with eggs... I'll try this next time.

Sarah said...

Having read through the blog you are now offically my woman to go to when I can't translate a food item.

That should stop some of my dithering at the fish and meat counter.

michelle | bleeding espresso said...

Mmm I love those little guys; never had them with artichokes. Wish I would've frozen some 'chokes when they were around!

Diana Strinati Baur said...

I always hesitate to buy these, because they scare me and I am afraid they will come out in a big lump! They are at my fish mongers now, from Liguria. I will give them a shot.


Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

I've heard of Bianchetti but never tried them (that I know of). Maybe I'll take your advice next time I see them!

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