In Italian pasta svuotafrigo means to make a pasta dish “to empty your fridge”, i.e. to dress pasta with what needs to be used up. I had some leftover kingfish in my fridge from making sushi and sashimi that needed to be used up. (Kingfish is called ricciola in Italy and hamachi in Japan. It is also known as amberjack.) I checked my fridge and also noticed green asparagus and a chunk of scamorza (smoked mozzarella) that needed to be used up.
Then I thought of the secondo piatto shown above that I’ve already made several times and is very good. It can also be made with green asparagus instead of zucchini, but I decided that I wanted to make a primo piatto instead. I also had some eggs in my fridge, and although they didn’t need to be used up, I decided to make fresh pappardelle. They were dressed with a smoked cheese sauce, in which I gently poached the fish. I sautéed the asparagus in butter and served everything together. Although I suppose pasta svuotafrigo is usually not as elaborate or fancy as this, it turned out excellent, and next time I will buy the ingredients on purpose to make this again. Fish and cheese are not often combined in Italian cooking (and is sometimes even referred to as heresy), but in this case it works very well, as the kingfish has enough flavor to stand up to the cheese sauce. And I did get the inspiration for the combination of this fish with a scamorza sauce from a Michelin starred restaurant near Naples.
For 2 servings as a full meal
300 grams (.66 lb) kingfish fillet
300 grams (.66 lb) green asparagus
150 grams (5 oz) scamorza (smoked mozzarella), diced
handful of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
250 ml (1 cup) milk
50 grams (4 Tbsp) butter, divided
25 grams (2 1/2 Tbsp) flour
fresh pappardelle pasta, made using 2 eggs and about 200 grams (1 1/3 cup) Italian 00 flour
salt and freshly ground white pepper
30 grams (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Dice the fish, season with salt, and refrigerate. This will also the salt to penetrate the fish while you prepare the rest.
Remove the tough fibrous ends of the green asparagus and discard. Cut off the tips and slice the stems into rounds that are about as long as they are thick.
Melt 25 grams of the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the asparagus.
Sauté the asparagus over medium-high heat until they are starting to brown a little.
Take the tips out of the pan and reserve. I put them in the oven together with the plates at 100C/220F to keep the asparagus warm en preheat the plates.
Deglaze the remaining asparagus with 80 ml of white wine.
Bring to a boil…
…and simmer until the wine has been reduced to 1 or 2 tablespoons. Turn off the heat and season the asparagus lightly with salt.
Make a white sauce with 250 ml of milk, 25 grams of butter, and 25 grams of flour, according to my instructions.
When the white sauce is ready…
…add the diced scamorza, and allow the cheese to melt, stirring over low heat.
I used an immersion blender to speed up the melting as well as mix the sauce.
Add a handful of freshly grated parmigiano to give the sauce more depth of flavor.
Season the sauce to taste with freshly ground white pepper and salt.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Add the diced fish to the cheese sauce.
Stir, then turn off the heat. The residual heat of the sauce will very gently cook the fish without drying it out. This takes only five minutes.
In the meantime, cook the pappardelle. The cooking time will depend on their thickness.
When the pasta is almost cooked, add the fish and cheese sauce to the asparagus over very low heat.
Stir to mix.
Drain the pasta when it is al dente, and add to the sauce.
Toss over very low heat until the pasta has been coated with the sauce.
Serve on preheated plates, garnished with the reserved asparagus tips.
This is amazing with an oaked Soave “Le Rive” by Suavia. Other creamy whites with oak will also work.