Every port in Italy has a fried seafood combination plate, but not too many have good ones. On the Amalfi Coast, however, they know how to do fried seafood right. The key is to make sure the oil is at the right temperature. I fry seafood at 275°F (135°C), which is at least 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) lower than what most people do. I also use a combination of half olive oil and half vegetable or peanut oil. The lower temperature and the combination of oils keeps the seafood crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Use whatever seafood looks freshest at your local market. The fried lemon slices, which I first saw on the Amalfi Coast, are a great touch.–David Pasternack and Ed Levine
LC Fried Seafood Flourish Note
When you read The Young Man & The Sea, you’ll find that author chef David Pasternack relies on Wondra flour for dredging this mixed bag of seafood given that the flour “never clumps” and “the excess is easily shaken off.” Who are we to argue? We were actually too distracted to contemplate the type of flour the first time we made this fritto misto, so wooed were we by the accompanying fried lemons with their cracklingly crisp crust yet juicily citrus smack. Truly divine. Don’t you dare omit them–although do fry them before you fry the fish, for what we think are obvious reasons.
Special Equipment: deep-frying thermometer
Fritto Misto Amalfitano Recipe
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes | Serves 4
- 6 cups extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
- 2 cups canola oil, or more as needed
- 1 1/2 cups Wondra flour (or substitute rice flour)
- 1 cup cornstarch
- Pinch of sugar
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 cut into wedges
- 1 pound squid, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 ounces shucked oysters
- 4 ounces bay scallops
- 1/2 pound scrod, cod, or other mild white fish, cut into 1 1/4-inch strips
- 1. Combine the olive and canola oils in a Dutch oven, stockpot, or other wide, deep pot. You should have a pool of oil that’s at least 8 inches deep. (If that’s not the case, add more to bring it to that depth.) Set the pot over a medium flame. Bring the oil to 275°F (135°C) and maintain that temperature.
- 2. While the oil is heating, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge the lemon slices and the seafood in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess flour.
- 3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently lower some of the dredged lemon slices into the hot oil, working with just 4 to 6 pieces at a time so as not to crowd the pot. The oil should bubble and sizzle but not spatter. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. (Keep an eye on the oil temperature. It will drop after the raw ingredients are added and climb as they are cooking. Do not let the oil temperature climb above 280°F [138°C].) Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the lemons to a baking sheet or platter lined with paper towels or a brown paper bag and season with salt and pepper while everything is still hot out of the oil. Repeat with the seafood, reserving the squid. Increase the temperature of the oil to 325°F and repeat with the squid. Serve the fritto misto family-style, on a platter or a newspaper-clad table, along with the lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.
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Fritto Misto Amalfitano Recipe © 2007 David Pasternack | Ed Levine. Photo © 2007 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.