Whilst visiting the bustling Rialto Fish Market, you may well be forgiven for being slightly overwhelmed. Apart from the Italian scrawls explaining what fish there is on offer, there is also often the Venetian name, and sometimes only this! And whilst it is not nearly as lively as it once was it definitely rivals any supermarket experience.
Much of the fish you will find here comes from the Adriatic or even further afield and of course, one of the most popular fish dishes, Baccalà comes all the way from Norway. However, there are several varieties that are local to the the lagoon.
It might be interesting to try and guess which ones they are simply by thinking about what you have seen most often on Menus, and those ones that you can’t even begin to pronounce – Schie (skee-ay)
I have always been impressed with Venetian ingenuity, but when it comes to the fish they really manage to surprise you with flavour. This is partly thanks to the fact that the sea fairing adventures brought countless spices to the city which wound their way to the tables. But it is also because, although there is a fair range of fish, there isn’t a huge amount and so instead of the being picky they have found ways to draw the best flavour out of the less desirable fish. (For example, RISOTTO DI GO, a notoriously labour intensive fish to clean).
Nowadays, you will almost always be able to find salmon or tuna of some sort wherever you are in the world, but it is not so common to come across; Pilchards marinated in onions, pine nuts and raisins (SARDE IN SAOR), Black Squid cooked in its own ink (SEPPIA IN NERO) anywhere else in the world apart from Venice. Particularly SARDE IN SAOR is wonderful example of Venice’s history. A flavour representation of how local fish has been fused with culinary traditions brought from the East. Also a testimony to Venetians sailing traditions, as the means of frying the fish and then preserving them in onions is fantastic for storing food on long voyages.
The Island Secrets
The most famous island for its fishing legacy is that of Burano. Still today you will come across families made of generations and genrations of fisherman, with closely guarded secrets accumulated over years. These are the families who are the first to know of the legendary arrival of the MOECHE. Whilst they always arrive twice during the year, it is never exactly at the same time and so these well trained masters know exactly what signs they are looking for. The touch.
Bigoli in Salsa
Another typical dish you will find above all in the Veneto region, is Bigoli in Salsa. Effectively a dish based on anchovies and onion. It is not always immediately loved by all, but when it is done well it is truly fantastic.
It is the simple slow cooking process that brings the onions to a buttery softness and reduces the anchovies to nothing more than a sauce. Coating the whole wheat pasta in a creamy texture that is unbelievably comforting and energy restoring.
Try it for yourself
Of course, our PRIVATE CHEF EXPERIENCE, is no exception to the rule. We try to introduce variety into our menus but we cannot stray to far from the traditional path and take great pleasure in using local fish from the market and bringing our own twist to a dish.
Not an exhaustive list: (but a start for your shopping basket)
schie (tiny shrimps)
moeche (a kind of soft-shell crab)
orada (gilt-head bream)
Branzino (sea bass)
Go (grass goby)
Moscardini (small octopus)
Canoce (my favourite)