One of the biggest compliments in my home cooking career is that of fettuccine marinara. When you prepare a dish, that so many people love, and so many people will choose to order in an Italian restaurant you are up against a challenge. Cook it well and they will love you for it. Cook it poorly and you can put them off the dish forever. When people begin to tell you that they now refuse to order this dish in a restaurant two possibilities come to mind: Oh my… they got food poisoning after eating the seafood and will never stomach it again… OR… they love my version so much that it pains them to eat the mediocre versions they get when eating out.
Fortunately for me, I have been able to achieve the latter with this one. Let me preface this with one important piece of detail. I don’t always use Marron. It costs a bit and it’s not easy to find fresh. I have bought marron on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, Margaret River in WA, and we stayed up at a beautiful Tuscan style accommodation in Bullsbrook, above the Swan Valley in WA and they had Marron ponds. I won’t pain you with my experience there. Actually, I’m going to. There were 3 of us staying there. We threw the Marron pots in the ponds. We didn’t know how many pots to throw in. When we pulled up about 80 marron… we sort of knew we had put too many pots in. We threw all of the smaller ones back, though they were still of reasonable size, and we cooked up the rest.
I don’t have much else to add for this story, but I’ll give you some tips from personal experience on this dish.
- I find that using fresh tomatoes is nicest. I believe it’s worth making your own sugo.
- When making the fettuccine you can smash some red chillies in a mortar and pestle then mix them through the dough. The red chilli creates beautifully specked pasta and if you are a hot head like me, adds a nice amount of heat.
- The fish is important. I believe a firm white fish is great for this dish. Swordfish works. Nice big prawns are fantastic, as is some baby octopus.
- I cook off my seafood very quickly in an extremely hot pan with garlic, olive oil, Murray River pink salt and lemon zest. You never, ever want to overcook the seafood doing it this way as the seafood will continue to cook in the pasta. I like to add capers as they go nicely with seafood.
- I tend to cook the lobster or marron over the grill on the bbq.
- When I have finished cooking off the seafood I strain it and put it aside. This really needs to be done at the last minute as the seafood will continue cooking when it’s hot. I add the juices to the sugo. I find this to add that seafood stock dimension to the tomato.
- It’s easy to overdo this dish, and you may find that you end up with a mess in a bowl. I think it’s important to get the flavours right.
So here you have a couple of older photos of my little masterpiece. Apologies for the dodgy photos with what is clearly the dining table of a student in the background.