Nov 23 2009

Spaghetti quasi allo scoglio

Category: RecipesDave @ 17:16

This dish is hard work but I am assured it’s worth it. If you do all the preparation yourself, before starting the actual cooking, it takes around 1 1/2 hours. If you get help with the prep and do some of it whilst bits of it are cooking then you can easily get it down to 1 hour.

There is a variant of this (actually this is the variant - the other is the original) which is a cross between a risotto and a paella. Neither is better - they're just different.

Ingredients for 3 people

1 onion (red for preference)
1 clove garlic
1/2 red pepper, de-seeded & cut into 1/2 cm squares
100 EV olive oil
50 gm good butter
200 gm mushrooms cut into roughly 1 - 1.5 cm cubes
50 gm mushrooms chopped as finely as you can manage.
18 large, raw king prawns
300 grams Monkish (angler fish) tails or side bits. Remove membrane and cut into bite-sized pieces
150 gm squid - rings or whole. You want to end up with strips about 1 cm wide, so if they're rings, just cut them in one place. If whole, slit all down one side, lay flat and cut across into ever-decreasing strips.
150 gm mussel meat (cooked)
100gm clammeat (cooked)
One of:
300 gm salmon
300 gm tuna
300 gm swordfish
200 gm sole or other flatfish fillet

If you're feeling really piggy, you can put more than 1 of the above in - then you'll probably have some left over for the next day 🙂 It keeps well & matures

100 ml white wine or dry sherry. Probably 50 ml of cognac with 50 ml water would work well.

Your favourite thickener (arrowroot, cornflour, extra-fine matzo meal, potato or rice flour)

As much of your favourite pasta as you want (around 100 gm per person). It does seem to go well with spaghetti. I wouldn't try it with egg pasta - it'd be too rich. Unless you want to serve small portions with, say, 50 gm of pasta as a starter.

A small handful of herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon dried lime peel
1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel (I'd run out of lemon so used orange - not a lot of difference 🙂
tip of a teaspoon each of paprika and white pepper (not black!)


In a very large frying pan (at least 30 cm & preferably non-stick), melt about 1/4 of the butter and add enough oil so that, between the two of them, the bottom of the pan is running with oil. Put the water on for the pasta. I'll leave you to decide where in this method you should put the pasta in the water 🙂 Have a heavy-bottomed 25cm saucepan to hand.

Add the onion to the frying pan and allow to sweat on a low light.

After 3 or 4 minutes, add garlic, herbs and spices, the peppers and the finely chopped mushrooms.

Carry on with the sweating, stirring occasionally. Watch the oil - it can all easily be absorbed. If so, add some more of both oil & butter, enough to ensure nothing sticks.

Once the onions are sweated, move the mixture to the sides of the pan - i.e. make a big empty circle in the middle. Add some more oil if necessary and then dump the squid in the empty circle. Stir occasionally taking care not to mix the squid with the veggie mixture. Some mixture is inevitable and the objective is that the seafood fries in oil/butter flavoured by the vegetables & herbs etc.

When the squid is just done, take it out (I use plastic tongs. Yes, it is fiddly). Put it in the 25 cm pan and cover.

Adjst the oil in the frying pan again if necessary and add the monkfish pieces. Fry over for around 5 - 6 minutes, turning every 2 minutes or so until they are cooked. Remove them and add them to the squid in the saucepan.

Add the rough cut mushrooms when the onion/pepper/fine cut mushroom mixture has turned into a goo - usually after around 15 minutes. Spread them around circle of goo then mix them in and re-make the circle.

Adjust the oil in the frying pan again and add the salmon/tuna/whatever you've chosen. Cook, turning occasionally, and add to the other cpoked seafood. Repeat as required until all the seafood that needs cooking is done and in the saucepan. Don't overcook the prawns - they should be only just done, if that.

Add the clams and mussels to the saucepan and stir gently in. Put the pan on a low light.

Add a couple of teaspoons of thickener to the saucepan and gently stir to coat everything with it. If that's not enough, add more until everything is coated. Add about 50 ml of hot water and stir until it starts to look vaguely sauce-like. Add more thickener if you want.

Tip the veggie mix from the frying pan into the saucepan and gently mix it in.

Heat the now empty frying pan and tip in the wine. Roll the now boiling wine around to dissolve all the nice fishy flavours off the pan, wait until most of the alcohol has gone then tip the residue into the saucepan. Gently stir it in for a minute or so. By now the clams and mussels should be heated through and it's ready to serve.


I actually added the clams (small - about 1cm across) to the goo when I judged there was about 5 mins cooking left to be done in the frying pan. You could also add the mussel meat about 5 mins before that. Doing this makes overcooks them somewhat & they start to disintegrate - just what's needed to make a proper sauce. If you use uncooked clams & mussels then the clams would need about 10 mins total cooking & the mussels 15.