My youngest son, Leo, and I made our way down to the glorious city of New Orleans about this time last year. I do recognize we live in New York City, where you can virtually get anything you’d ever crave in the world. But there’s something about that slow, southern drawl and unbeatable hospitality that’s almost as mind-blowing as the food in the beloved crescent city.
For Leo and I, it doesn’t get much better than shrimp and grits, oyster po’boys and a crawfish boil on the bayou of the mighty Mississippi River. I’m sure if you followed my trip down south on Instagram, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s that same less-than-fancy comfort food I love about simple Italian fare as well. Drawing inspiration from both of my favorite places, ‘Nawlins and Italia, this week I’m cooking my Marinated Fish with Vinegar and Mint.
This dish is typical of Roman home cooking, but it may seem a little strange to the American cook because of the order in which the fish is prepared. The rouget (or red mullet) is cooked first, then marinated. Stick with it—the marinade changes the texture of the fish and the flavors literally meld together, forming poetry in your mind as you snack on these.
Rouget is renowned for its delicate flavor and is increasingly more available in the United States. However, if you are unable to find rouget from your local fishmonger, smelts or sardines make nice substitutes.
A warm afternoon in the shade with a delicious snack like this in one hand and a chilled glass of Frascati in the other is what the spirit of New Orleans, and Italian culture, is all about.