Sea bass, or branzino or spigola in Italian, is found on menus everywhere around Argentario and Orbetello — the lagoon , situated between these two places, is the source of Italy’s most famous and best-regarded farmed sea bass.
Bavette is a typical Ligurian pasta shape — flat and narrow but thick. You can use any pasta with this, but it is nice with something long and thin such as square-cut or regular spaghetti or tagliolini.
- 400g sea bass fillets
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, stalks separated and roughly chopped, leaves finely chopped
- 125ml dry white wine
- 1 tomato (or handful of cherry tomatoes), chopped
- 250ml fish stock
- 320g dried bavette, or 400g fresh bavette (or spaghetti or tagliolini)
01 Cut the fish fillets into 1.5 cm cubes, then set aside.
02 Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks. Season with a pinch of salt and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, until the onion sweats and is softened but not coloured — add a splash of water if needed.
03 Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil for the pasta.
04 Pour the white wine over the onion mixture and turn the heat up to medium. Let it simmer for 2 minutes, then add the tomato and stock and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the cubed fish and continue cooking for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat.
05 When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente (follow the packet instructions for the cooking time). Drain, reserving about 60ml of the cooking water. Add the pasta and the chopped parsley leaves to the fish ragu, then toss to combine. If you need extra liquid to bring it all together, add some of the reserved cooking water. Serve immediately.
If you’re buying a whole fish to fillet yourself, you will need double the weight. Save the heads and bones for making fish stock.