Prep Time 30 minutes, plus cod preparation and chilling
Cooking Time 1 hour 30 minutes
You may or may not find this dish in Venice, but what you won’t struggle to find is salt cod, or baccala, most traditionally in the mantecato (whipped) form, but also in an array of other beautiful applications, like this one, where it’s paired with the delicate taste and texture of prawns. Making your own salt cod is relatively easy, and a great thing to do if you have an abundance of fish that you’d like to preserve. Bought salt cod can be lovely too – you just have to soak it in the fridge for a couple of days to alleviate the saltiness.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baccala (salt cod) fillets
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) prawns, shells on
- 300 g (1¼ cups) ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 100 g (2¼ cups) baby spinach
- 100 ml (scant ½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 150 ml (generous ½ cup) white wine
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin Australian olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 140 g (1 cup) chopped celery
- 155 g (1 cup) chopped carrot
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 black peppercorns
- 250 ml (1 cup) Fish stock
- 400 g (14 oz) Fresh egg pasta dough, rolled into sheets no thicker than 1 mm
- Semolina, for dusting
- 160 g (5½ oz) butter
- 10 g (½ cup) sage leaves
Wash the excess salt from the salt cod and then soak it in cold water in the fridge for 48 hours, changing the water twice each day. This process will remove most of the fish’s saltiness. After 48 hours, remove and pat dry with paper towels.
Finely chop the salt cod.
Place the salt cod, garlic and bay leaf in a large saucepan, cover with water and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Drain, discarding the fish skin, bones, bay leaf and garlic clove.
To make the ravioli filling, peel and devein the prawns, keeping the shells and heads for the prawn reduction.
Strain the ricotta in tea towels to remove all the liquid. Set aside.
Split the peeled prawns, garlic, spinach, olive oil and wine into three equal parts, keeping them separate. Place a third of the olive oil in a medium pan and bring to a medium–high heat. Place one part of the garlic into the pan, then add one part of the prawns and sauté until the garlic and prawns are golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Place one part of the baby spinach into the pan and cook until the spinach has wilted. Deglaze the pan with one part of the white wine and place the mixture on a flat tray. Repeat this process until all the prawns are cooked, then place the tray in the fridge until chilled.
Once cool, roughly process the prawns and spinach in a food processor, then add the salt cod and process until thoroughly mixed. Place in a bowl, add the ricotta and mix with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the prawn reduction, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan for 2 minutes, then add the reserved prawn heads and shells and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and thyme and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir through, then add the white wine, bay leaf and peppercorns and cover with 250 ml (1 cup) water and the fish stock.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Pass this prawn broth through a fine strainer into a saucepan on the stovetop and reduce the liquid to a third of its original volume. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the ravioli, brush one sheet of the pasta dough lightly with water and place ½ tablespoon of the ravioli filling in 5 cm (2 inch) intervals. Place another sheet of pasta on top and press around the mixture to remove any air. Using a 5 cm (2 inch) cutter, cut round ravioli shapes and place on non-stick baking paper dusted with semolina.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and place the ravioli in the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the butter and sage to a sauté pan and cook over low heat until the butter becomes a nut brown colour.
Toss the ravioli in the brown butter and then divide the ravioli among the serving dishes. Drizzle the prawn reduction over the pasta.
This recipe has been taken from Nino Zoccali’s Venetian Republic, which can be bought here.