Roberto Donna offers classes at the Laboratorio kitchen within Galileo Restaurant, Washington DC. The "Five Course Dinner from Naples" class was excellent: informative, hands-on, tasty, and fun; Roberto is an engaging teacher with a passion for food.
The recipes handed out in the class bore very little resemblance to how we actually cooked, which isn't surprising really. What I present here is an improvisation on his in-class ad lib. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and is quite good. Unfortunately, while I was cooking it, I didn't measure anything so any figures here are approximate; be sure to taste frequently.
The sauce is made first because the fish cooks rapidly. It's a fresh, uncooked sauce added to the fish in progress.
|4||large||Tomatoes, fresh (or canned Italian; don't bother with store-bought, they have no flavor)|
|1||clove||Garlic, diced small|
|Pepper, black, freshly ground|
|1/2||Cub||Basil, fresh, chiffonade|
|1/4 - 1/2||Cup||Olive Oil, extra virgin, flavorful|
|3||clove||Garlic, smashed but left intact|
|1/2||pound||Clams, Little Neck, fresh|
|1/2||pound||Mussels, fresh, beards scrubbed off|
|3/8||pound||Fish, I forgot what kind: from Atlantic, eastern shore; cut into 1/2 inch chunks|
|3/4||pound||Monkfish, cut into 1/2 inch chunks|
Skin the tomatoes and halve them by cutting through the equator, squeeze to get rid of most of the seeds and water. If you don't have fresh tomatoes from your garden or market, use canned Italian tomatoes and try to eliminate seeds and liquid. Don't waste your time on store-bought tomatoes, they'll make a useless sauce and ruin the fish.
Add minced Garlic, Basil, Salt, Pepper, flavorful Olive Oil. Don't skimp on the Salt and Olive Oil -- the Oil provides a major flavor component. Mix well with hands to break up the tomatoes. Your hands also warm the sauce and oil so you can determine the flavor; check and adjust seasoning. Let stand while you cook the fish.
Add the other 1/4 C Olive Oil to a pan and heat. Add smashed Garlic and saute until Garlic is browned; remove Garlic.
Add Clams and cook until they just open; they'll sputter and splash oil, you might want to cover loosely which will also keep in the heat. Mussels cook more quickly than Clams but more slowly than fish so add Mussels and heat briefly, not quite until they open.
Add the tomato sauce to the pan, then add the fish. Continue heating, covered if needed, until Mussels open and fish is barely cooked through. Add the White Wine to thin the tomato sauce to a slightly soupy consistency. Heat through. Taste and adjust Salt and pepper.
Serve in deep heated bowls.
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