Monday, October 15, 2007

Merluzzo Pasta Puttanesca - Pimp My Cod!

Merluzzo is Codfish in Italian, and I just thought it would look cooler in the title. In case you've never heard of a "Puttanesca" sauce before, it's Italian for "in the style of the whore." I know, it sounds appetizing doesn’t it? But, it really is a fantastic and fast pasta sauce that can be prepared and tossed on plain pasta, or used as a base for a more complex recipe as I have done here. I've taken the basic Puttanesca sauce and added fresh codfish and Arugula to create a very nice, and quite healthy seafood pasta. By the way, it tastes much better than it looks! The black olive tapenade I added makes for a sort of grey and muddy looking sauce, but when you dress it up with a little parmesan on top and more red pepper flakes, it suddenly becomes much more attractive (insert your own prostitute joke here).

Now, as far as the story behind the Puttanesca sauce's origins, there are many stories, some more "colorful" than others. It is pretty much agreed upon that Naples was the birthplace, but that's about all that people don't argue about. What follows are the most common explanations of this delicious sauce; the ladies of the night made this pasta sauce because the irresistible aroma would help draw in customers. It was created as a quick and cheap meal the ladies could eat in between customers. It is hot, spicy, and fast, as are the woman for whom it's named.

Regardless of the true origin, it's a great sauce, and one that should be part of your regular pasta rotation, no matter what your own personal level of virtue happens to be. I've made this version much lower calorie by reducing the usual amount of olive oil and replaced it with stock and wine. Enjoy!




Ingredients:
1 pound fresh cod
2 cups chicken or fish stock (or water)
1 pound pasta
1 cup white wine
2 tbl anchovy paste
2 tbl red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic
2 tbl olive tapenade or chopped olives
1/4 cup capers
1 bunch Arugula (about 2-3 cups)
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan

23 comments:

Chef John said...

FYI: I know the brightcove video player says Merluzza instead of Merluzzo, but it wont let me change it!! I hope Merluzza isnt a bad word! Like "Puttanesca"

Anonymous said...

Best headline ever!

Robert said...

Sounds like you were holding your nose during this video. I hope this is good for your cold. Get well soon

Chef John said...

yes, it was! spicy food is the best medicine.

Jewels said...

Hope you feel better soon. :-(

Chef John said...

Thanks! It's hard out here for a...

Anonymous said...

whoa I just imagined a sparkling purple hat cod with white feathers... freaky

Photoshop....

r00tman said...

That's a dish any Portuguese would love.

kellypea said...

Sounds excellent. I've been looking for cod recipes. But I've not seen or made a puttanesca quite like this.

mug shot comment person said...

i've seen many recipe's that include tomato. why don't you?

Mike Mig said...

A friend of mine suggested boiling down grouper heads for the fish stock. 50 Cents a pound for the heads its cheaper than buying any other kind of stock.

Chef John said...

tomato's good, but I didnt have any. Just like the Ladies of the night...sometimes they run out of rouge, but still have to work!

Chef John said...

true about the fish heads... i hope you live alone!

mug said...

:)

mug said...

besides your expertise & no nonsense approach to cooking, i'm hooked on your sense of humor.

B.C. Harvey said...

It was explained to me by my brother the cook that Puttanesca is so named because by the time (very late in the day) the ladies of the night were tolerated out in public (to do their grocery shopping for instance) there wasn't much left on the shelves. Puttanesca has it's ingredients because there was *always* lots of capers, olives and anchovie paste, a couple saucing tomatos, maybe an unwanted zuke or two, left on the shelves of the stores by the time it was time for the Puttanesca to do their shopping. Ever heard this iteration of the tale, Chef John?

Thanks for another outstanding, mouth watering video recipe. Best of luck with your new job, man, we're all pulling for you!

Chef John said...

Thanks, yes I have heard that version and it makes sense. I suppose there are several reasons for the name.

Chef John said...

BTW. Thanks to everyone for the great comments above. I passed the first and easiest phase of the training. And, Im sure there are many applicants, so I'm not getting my hopes up, but thanks for all the inspiring comments. We'll see.

Bill W, NH said...

I made this a while back and it was excellent. Will make it again tonight but will use shrimp, small Vietnamese clams, and pollock (it's in abundance here, 3.99 per pound, cod is usually inexpensive here but running at around 8 per pound these days).

Anonymous said...

Hi John this is Arvind from India a regular visitor on food wishes.com and have come across great dishes hope see more and more recipes each day.. take care...

Anonymous said...

Merluzzo is sooo not codfish in Italian. Merluzzo is whiting the recipe looks good though.

Paul D said...

I live for this kind of cooking. Beautifully done. I love the arugula addition...

Ana Leitão said...

Hello John!

First I would like to say that I really like your blog.

And now, I am Portuguese rootman and I didn't like this dish (I am sorry John it’s nothing personal, just Portuguese pride talking). I think it's something missing, it's too simple.

Codfish (Bacalhau in Portuguese) is an amazing fish and we do love it where in Portugal. So my suggestion is, make a Portuguese Codfish dish. I am sure you will just love it.

Just try Cod with cream or Cod in the oven with cream and onions sauce.

If you need any help finding a good recipe or translating something just let me know.