Red mullet with wild artichokes of Altomonte

Ingredients for 4 people
The mullet
4 medium-sized red mullet, 20g of EVO, 20g of pistachios, 1g of marjoram, 1g of lemon peel, 1g of garlic, salt and pepper

Brown the red mullet fillets with EVO in the pan on the side of the skin, put in a pan and season with all the other ingredients, finish baking in the oven at 180 ° C for one minute.

The couscous
100g of couscous, 150g of vegetable stock, 20g of porcini mushrooms, 10g of carrots, 10 g of red onion, 10g of celery, 20g of zucchini, 20 peppers, 10g of black olives, 80g of artichokes wild, 2g of parsley, 1g of thyme, 1g of dill, some saffron pistil

Pour the hot stock over the couscous and saffron, cover and fold cool down. Shell the couscous with a fork and add all the vegetables cut into cubes previously browned with EVO.

The pistachio chips
100g of salted pistachios, 20g of pistachio paste, 35g of pasteurised albumen

Chop the pistachios, toast them and let them cool, add all the ingredients and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Knock down forming a very thin layer and bake at 180 °C for about 15 minutes.

The saffron caramel
150g of sugar, 50g of glucose, 300g of white vinegar, some saffron pistil.

Reduce all together 60% over low heat.

Goat’s foam
40g of goat cheese, 1g of chives, 5g of EVO, white pepper

Combine the ingredients and whisk in a planetary mixer until you get one frothy mixture.

Composition
of the dish
Put the couscous in the centre of the plate and lay the two on top fillets of red mullet, on the sides pour some drops of caramel al saffron and goat’s foam, complete with the chips of pistachio, sprouts and a thread of EVO.

THE PRODUCT

When I was a child I thought that Altomonte artichokes grew in jars as they were so small.
Nowadays I can see large green patches on this hill, where the village is situated, made up of artichoke plants. They are wild artichokes that grow spontaneously on the uncultivated and clay land of the mountains and countryside of Calabria.
Typical plant of Mediterranean environments, it bears fruit in the period between May and June. They are difficult to pick due to the many thorns. This is why wild artichokes are only preserved by hand as a very specialised and difficult job.
Picked one by one, their external leaves and tips are removed to leave only the heart. Lastly, they are submerged in water with a touch of lemon awaiting to be eaten. The softer hearts are even very tasty eaten raw. They are preserved in oil once par boiled in water and vinegar and then put in jars with olive oil.

IN THE KITCHEN
When I open a jar to use the product in the kitchen, I cannot resist the temptation of tasting them and am unable to stop until the jar is empty. These wild artichokes are a delicacy typical of the gastronomic tradition. They are precious as fruit of uncontaminated nature. They are appetising, perfect as a starter.
Excellent with pasta or as a side dish. Great in rice salads and cereals in general. Wild artichokes are small and very tasty, therefore very little cooking is recommended in order to maintain the original taste. The best period to prepare these delicate artichokes is Spring, as they can easily be found in Mediterranean areas where they grow spontaneously.

THE TERRITORY
The small village of Altomonte has always fascinated me with the spirit that runs along its medieval alleys. This small village safeguards important traces of its history in the open theatre, location where many important events take place.
The Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione is one of the most important constructions of the Angevin period in Calabria. Tommaso Campanella took refuge in the convent next to the church before being arrested. A few steps away from the convent there is a Feudal Castle of Norman origin and the Torre dei Pallotta, ancient square based fortress, now the home of the Azzinari Museum. The San Francesco di Paola Monastery is situated in the lower part of the village. It has been the town hall since 1980, one of the most beautiful in Italy, displaying works of great artistic and cultural interest.

Chef Luigi Ferraro
Born in Cassano Allo Ionio, but describes himself as a world citizen. He lives and he works wherever his career takes him: from Sharm-El-Sheik to Stuttgart, Bangkok, London, Paris, George Town, St Petersburg, New York amongst many others.
After five years in Moscow and almost two in New Delhi where he fulfilled the role of Italian Chef at the “Sorrento”, utmost elegant Italian Restaurant at the luxurious Shangri-La’s-Eros Hotel, Chef Ferraro has recently landed at the Gulf Of Oman leading a team in an Italian Restaurant at the lavish Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa.