Giorgio Locatelli was born in 1962 and brought up on the banks of Lake Maggiore, Italy, in a village called Corgeno. His love of Italian cuisine transpires from his childhood, which he spent steeped in the kitchen at his family’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
After a short spell working in a number of local restaurants in North Italy, following his dream to become a chef, Giorgio travelled to England in 1986 to join the kitchens of Anton Edelmann at The Savoy. Four years later, Giorhio moved to Paris, working at Restaurant Laurent and La Tour D’Argent.
Since his return to London, Giorgio has opened several of his own restaurants, including: Zafferano (February 1995); Spighetta (July 1997); Spiga (March 2009); and Locanda Locatteli (February 2002).
Taken from his book, Made in Italy, Giorgio’s Sea bass with tomato crust and Vernaccia wine recipe is a celebration of the award-winning, traditional Italian cuisine served at his restaurants, including Locanda Locatteli which was awarded a Michelin star just one year after its launch and has maintained it ever since.
3 tablespoons diced green olives
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
4 thick sea bass fillets (each about 7 ounces)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
160 ml Vernaccia (or other spicy dry white wine)
3 tablespoons fish stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and pepper
For the artichoke puree:
2 large globe artichokes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion (thinly sliced)
160 ml cup white wine
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 pats of butter
Blanch the tomatoes, skin, quarter and deseed, then cut into dice about the same size as the olive dice.
Put the sun-dried tomatoes into a food processor, process them quickly, then add the bread crumbs and whiz again until the tomato is absorbed into the bread crumbs and it looks a bit like a crumble mixture. Spoon out onto a tray and flatten down. Leave in a warm place in the kitchen for an hour or so to dry out.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and take your sea bass out of the fridge so that it can come to room temperature. Squeeze the lemon juice, put half to one side and add the rest to a bowl of water. Have this ready before you start preparing the artichokes for the puree.
To make the puree, snap off the artichoke stalks and discard them. With a small paring knife, starting at the base of each artichoke, trim off all the green leaves and put the artichoke into the bowl of water with lemon juice while you remove the leaves from the next one. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Using the same paring knife, begin to trim away the white leaves from each artichoke until you are left only with a few tender ones surrounding the heart. Put back into the bowl of water and continue to trim the other artichokes, putting them into the water as soon as they are ready, so that they don’t discolour. Cut each artichoke heart in half, scoop out the hairy chokes and discard them. Leave the remaining hearts in the bowl of water until you need them.
Heat a saucepan, add the olive oil and then the sliced onion. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured. Thinly slice the artichoke hearts, add them to the onion and cook for another 5 minutes, the add the white wine. Allow the alcohol to evaporate completely (about 15 to 20 minutes) and then add half a pint of water. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the artichokes are soft and all the water has disappeared — keep an eye on the pan and stir as the water evaporates, to avoid the artichokes catching fire and burning.
Transfer the contents of the pan containing the artichokes to a food processor and puree until smooth.
Put the cream in a pan and boil it to reduce it by half. Add the artichoke puree and let it cook for a few minutes. The resulting puree should be soft but firm enough for the sea bass to sit on top; if you feel that it is too wet, let it cook a little longer to dry it out. When it is ready, season to taste, cover and keep to one side.
Take an ovenproof nonstick frying pan big enough to fit all the fillets comfortably and get it hot on the burner. (If you don’t have a big enough pan, you will need to cook the fillets in two batches.) Lightly season the fish on the skin side, put a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan (it will heat up instantly) and add the fillets, skin side down. As the heat goes through the fish, it will turn from translucent to white and opaque.
As soon as the fillet has turned white halfway up the fillet, turn it over (the skin should now be crisp and golden) and sprinkle with the dried breadcrumb and tomato mixture. Pour the wine into the pan (around, not over the fish) and transfer to the oven for a couple of minutes. The bread crumbs will crisp up and become darker in colour.
Take the pan from the oven and lift the fish onto a warm plate. Put the pan back on the heat, add the olives and fish stock, and bubble up so that it reduces by half. Then put the sea bass back into the sauce, crust upward, for a minute or so to heat through.
At the same time, put the artichoke puree back on the heat to warm through. Stir in the butter and, when the puree is hot, spoon it onto your plates and put the fish on top.
To the pan in which the fish has been cooked, add the reserved lemon juice, the rest of the olive oil and the parsley, then spoon this mixture around the fish and serve.