I first posted this recipe in 2005. It was the featured gefulte fish substitute at the Angeli Passover dinner for more than twenty years. But don’t just think of it as Jewish holiday food. Pesce in Carpione comes from the Italian culinary tradition of agrodolce, sweet and sour, a remnant of times when vinegar was used to preserve food, not just for it’s in your face punch of flavor. The sourness of the vinegar in this dish is balanced by the presence of a copious amount of caramelized onions. I love serving it to friends who say they hate fish. How quickly they change their minds!
Pesce in Carpione (Marinated White Fish with Caramelized Onions)
- 2 lbs whitefish fillet, skin on
- Flour for dredging
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil for pan frying
- 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
- Small handful of coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
- 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 head radicchio or butter lettuce
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
Remove pin bones from the fish using tweezers, pliers or your fingers. Cut the fish fillet crosswise into pieces about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. Lightly dust the fish with the seasoned flour, add to the pan, and fry until golden. Carefully remove the fish from the skillet and arrange it in a nonreactive baking pan of stainless, glass, or enamel
In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil and saut- the onions until very tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the onions, chopped parsley and raisins, if desired, over the fish.
To make the marinade, in a small bowl whisk together the remaining 1 cup of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the fish and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Separate the radicchio or butter lettuce head into individual leaves, and arrange on serving plates. Lift the fish, topped with the onion mixture, out of the marinade and arrange on the lettuce leaves. Garnish with pine nuts.