Last September I enjoyed a wonderful plate of ravioli at ristorante Vecchia Vieste in the town of Vieste in the South-Italian region of Puglia. The ravioli were stuffed with cernia (grouper) and pistachios, and served with a ragù of cicale di mare (mantis shrimp). In Italian it sounds great: Ravioli di cernia e pistacchio in salsa di cicale. As grouper and mantis shrimp are not available here, I decided to substitute with sea bass and scampi. If you have access to grouper and mantis shrimp, by all means use those. The flavor and texture of the pistachios in the fish filling is really nice, as is the combination with the scampi ragù. This dish takes some effort, but is definitely worth it.
For 4 servings as a primo piatto (makes about 20 ravioli)
200 grams (7 oz) sea bass or grouper fillets
30 grams (3 Tbsp) shelled pistachios, plus a bit more for garnish
4 medium scampi or mantis shrimp
500 grams (1.1 lb) ripe tomatoes (because of the delicate flavor of the scampi, I would advise against using canned tomatoes in this case)
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh pasta dough made using 2 eggs and 200 grams (1 1/3 cup) Italian 00 flour
Toast the pistachios in the oven at 180C/350F until they are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Skin the fish if needed…
…and season with salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the minced shallot…
…and stir over medium heat until the shallot has softened and is starting to color, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the pistachios in the food processor (saving a few for garnish).
When the shallots are looking good, turn up the heat and add the fish.
Stir for a minute, then deglaze with the white wine.
Add the pistachios.
Stir and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.
Transfer the fish and all of the juices from the pan to a bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to allow the filling to firm up.
In the meantime, make pasta dough and allow it to rest for half an hour, wrapped in plastic wrap.
Roll out the dough to the thinnest setting and make ravioli according to my instructions.
Keep going until you run out of stuffing.
Take the scampi tails out of their shells. Reserve the heads and shells, and chop the scampi flesh. Season it with salt.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the scampi flesh…
…and stir for a minute, then turn off the heat.
Transfer the cooked scampi flesh into a bowl and reserve.
Do not clean the pan with the scampi drippings, but add the whole clove of garlic to the remaining oil.
Add the reserved scampi heads and shells as well, and stir for a minute over medium high heat.
Cover with water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat…
…and allow to simmer for half an hour.
In the meantime, skin the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (you can use the same pot of water to cook the ravioli later). Score a cross in the tomatoes with a sharp knife.
Submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water until the skin detaches…
…then lift them out of the water. Cover the pot to keep the water hot until you are ready to cook the ravioli.
Remove the skin and scoop out the seeds with your fingers or a small spoon. Discard skin and seeds.
Chop the tomatoes.
When the scampi stock has simmered for half an hour, strain the stock. Reserve the scampi heads for decoration, if you like.
Return the sieved scampi stock to the pan, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a strong simmer…
…and simmer until reduced to about 120 ml (1/2 cup).
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, and add the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt.
Stir over medium high heat for a minute…
…then add the reduced scampi stock.
…and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until the sauce is nice and thick.
When the sauce is nice and thick, add the reserve scampi flesh, and stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Boil the ravioli in salted water for 1 to 2 minutes.
Lift them out of the boiling water with a strainer, and add to the scampi ragù.
Once you’ve added all of the ravioli, toss to coat them with the ragù.
Serve at once on preheated plates, garnished with chopped pistachios.
Blanquette de veau is a classic French dish. My version of Blanquette de veau sous-vide turned out delicious. Blanc is French for white, and so everything but the parsley in this recipe is ‘white’: veal, mushrooms, pearl onions, white sauce, and cream. Nothing is browned to maintain the creamy flavor and light color. It is also served with something ‘white’: potatoes or rice. By cooking the veal sous-vide it’s incredibly tender and succulent, and it is easier as veal can easily become dry when cooked the traditional way.