Colin Dutton
Cappon magro, as prepared at restaurant Manuelina in Recco, Italy.
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Cappon Magro

Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riveria, Fred Plotkin / October 2012

For 4 to 6 servings

Gallette del marinaio (makes 30 to 35 biscuits):

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup active dry yeast
  • 8 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup malt powder
  • 3 Tbsps. fine sea salt
  1. Add 1 cup water to yeast in large bowl; let stand 10 minutes, whisking periodically.

  2. Reserving 1/2 cup flour, add remaining flour, malt powder, salt, and remaining 2 cups water to the bowl; whisk ingredients together, then use hands to form a dough; knead dough on floured surface 3 to 4 minutes, adding more water or flour as needed (dough should be soft and firm); cover and let rise in warm space 1 hour.

  3. Break off small pieces of dough; roll out into 2" wide disks; cover; let rest 1 hour.

  4. Heat oven to 400°F; place baking stone in oven.

  5. Dock each disk with tines of a fork; place disks on baking stone; bake 15 minutes; remove from oven; cool to room temperature.

Sauce:

  • 1 sm. piece soft white bread
  • 2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 lg. eggs, hard-boiled
  • 5 olives, pitted
  • 6 Tbsps. pine nuts
  • 3 Tbsps. capers, packed in vinegar or brine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Ligurian extra-virgin olive oil

Place bread and vinegar in small bowl; soak until moistened through; place in a mortar; add parsley, eggs, olives, pine nuts, capers, garlic, and salt; mash with pestle to combine; mix in oil, mashing to make smooth sauce; reserve.

Pyramid:

  • 2 1/2-lb. fillet firm-fleshed fish (cod, scrod, striped bass, or tilefish), cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 8 baby artichokes, halved, doused in lemon juice, and boiled until tender
  • 1/2 sm. head cauliflower, cored, cut into florets, and boiled until tender
  • 1 1/4 cups slender green beans, boiled until tender
  • 3 lg. carrots, peeled, cut into thick rounds, and boiled until tender
  • 2 zucchini, cut into thick rounds and boiled until tender
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, cut into bite-size chunks, and boiled until tender
  • 2 beets, peeled and boiled until tender
  • 8 raw oysters, opened
  • 8 whole mushrooms packed in oil
  • 8 green or black olives
  • 8 lg. shrimp or prawns, boiled, shells removed
  • 1 2-lb. lobster, boiled or steamed, cooled, and cut into 8 pieces, with shell still attached
  1. Place fish in a pot set over medium heat; add cold water just to cover; add salt; bring barely to a simmer; cook until fish flakes at the touch of a fork (about 15 minutes); remove fish from water; place on a platter; reserve.

  2. To serve, rub 3 gallette del marinaio with cut side of garlic; place in small bowl; add vinegar; let biscuits soak up vinegar; place biscuits in center of large plate in a row; place a piece of fish on top of each biscuit; coat fish with sauce; pile artichokes, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and beets to make a mountain, starting at edges of biscuits and working inward as you layer up and adding a coating of sauce after each layer (vegetables can be mixed or each layer can be composed of a single type of vegetable); place oysters around base of pyramid, evenly spacing apart; using a skewer, stick a mushroom into pyramid directly above each oyster; stick an olive in pyramid above each mushroom; stick a shrimp above each olive; above shrimp, stick a piece of lobster so it sits vertically, giving the impression of reaching upward; spoon any leftover sauce over pyramid peak so that it runs down the sides and lightly coats garnishes.

What to drink: Ligurian white wine