The fresh seafood at the Rialto Market in Venice is very impressive. As Venice is located on the Adriatic Sea, the fish is freshly caught every morning. There is an extensive range of fish, maybe twenty different varieties in total, both whole and filleted, shellfish, such as scampi and shrimp, octopus and good looking calamari. The quality and freshness is first class. There is no “fishy” smell and the stallholders present their fish in an attractive manner with plenty of ice to keep it all nice and fresh. And it has inspired our recipe for herb crumbed fish. We are going to use fresh swordfish for this dish.
The Rialto Market in Venice
So when we visited Venice, our first stop was to the Rialto Market (not far from the Rialto Bridge) to check out the selection of fish. We arrived early, about 9am, as we had a big day planned in Venice.
At home if you arrive at a market by 9am, it would be crowded, with a lot of the best produce already sold. At the Rialto Market, we only saw tourists at that time and just a few locals shopping. Things don’t start early in Italy! But given how late they tend to eat the night before this is not surprising.
I have been posting recipes for some time now and it has occurred to me I have not posted a seafood recipe yet. Which is rather odd because I love seafood.
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Prices varied. Seafood is becoming more and more expensive around the world. Compared to Australia, the fish was cheaper in Venice but the shellfish, octopus and calamari was maybe more expensive.
We spied some rather good looking swordfish. This is a fabulous fish. It is mild in taste, quite firm in texture, mid-range in terms of price and has an attractive red tinge. And it is widely available in many places around the world. Swordfish is usually cut thinly compared to say tuna so cooks quite quickly.
When I saw the swordfish, I resolved to make Herb Crumbed Fish inspired by the Venice Fish Market visit.
Cooking Fish at Home
Are you a little reticent about cooking fish at home? You quite like seafood but tend to eat it at a restaurant instead?
I have been guilty of this. Even my own mother (a great cook) always and still does steer away from cooking fish. Why is this so?
I suspect there are a variety of reasons, such as:
- Fish and chip shops. Yes this might sound odd but until the mid-60’s, at least in Australia, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Friday (still the case during lent). So the local fish and chip shop did a roaring trade on Fridays. I can’t really remember eating anything but fish and chips on a Friday night! Now when I walk into a fish and chip shop, it reminds me of those days back in the 60’s. I think a lot of people my age and older still prefer to eat their fish this way, because it is they have always done and they have fond memories.
- Access to a good fishmonger. This is less of an issue these days but there was no doubt it was easier to buy good quality meat than it was good quality fish a few decades back.
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- Less knowledge about fish. This is also less of an issue now but there was less knowledge about fish varieties and how to cook them. With the recent explosion of cooking shows and publications there is a better understanding now of how to cook fish. Fifty years ago, in the US and Australia at least, we were big meat eaters rather than big fish eaters. This was partly cultural. Thankfully the term meat and 3 veg is slowly dying out with a greater emphasis now on vegetables and fish.
- Multiculturalism. This is a big one. Something I really love about Australia and the US is multiculturalism. Other cultures, more focused around seafood than meat have brought seafood recipes and methods with them. As much as anything this has driven wider acceptance of seafood in our diets.
- Smell. Some people don’t care for the smell when cooking some fish (but then cabbage can smell too). It is true some fish can smell somewhat when cooking (especially fried fish) but I think fish is sold fresher now than at any time previously.
Fish and Seafood in Italy
But back to Italy.
Given the huge coastline of Italy and the fact it is a long, narrow-shaped country with most people living not far from the coast, it’s easy to understand why seafood is so popular. Popular choices in Italy are calamari, octopus, anchovies, shrimp (prawns), tuna, sardines and swordfish.
So in celebration of good seafood, great Italian herbs and vegetables, here is a simple herb crumbed fish inspired by the Venice Fish Market you can make. Add a zucchini and tomato salad and you will have a visual delight as well.
Herb crumbed fish is baked so no frying to deal with and I promise it will not make your house smell!
Recipe for Herb Crumbed Fish using Fresh Swordfish