A trip to Naples reinvigorates STEVE MANFREDI’S love for lemons.
On my last morning in Naples recently, I wandered around an area of the city that is packed with fish markets. It’s astounding how fresh everything is. It’s also a little alarming to foreigners – and northern Italians – how often the locals haggle and argue with the sellers. Buyer expectation is very high and this is what drives quality.
Around the many containers of seafood, almost framing the glistening shells and scales like garlands, were the famous Amalfi lemons. Not just a few here and there; whole branches of them.
At one stall, we happened to mention to the owner how good everything looked and what a shame we were in a hotel room and couldn’t cook. After the required negotiation of A 5 ($6.40) a piece, we were eating finely sliced raw fish and freshly shucked clams, simply dressed with the family’s olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon.
On that last day we ate lunch standing on the street, leaning against the counter of a hole-inthe-wall tripe stall.
Served on food-grade paper, the dish consisted of tripe, tendons, pig’s cheeks, ears, snout, rind and belly. All perfectly cooked, thinly sliced and served cold with a judicious dressing of salt and the juice of those amazing lemons.
This recipe was given to me by Caterina Nuzzo from the small town of Cancello, near Naples.
For the pastry:
For the cream filling:
Make pastry first by placing flour and sugar in a food processor. Remove butter from fridge and cut into small cubes. Switch on processor, and add cold butter one cube at a time. Add eggs and lemon rind and pulse until incorporated and mixture forms balls. Form pastry into a rough disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To make filling, place sugar and potato flour in a bowl. Mix in egg yolks, lemon juice and rind using the water to whisk everything together into a smooth liquid. Place in a saucepan on low to medium heat and stir until it thickens to a smooth cream. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Roll out half the pastry to fit a 28cm tart case. Fill with the cooled cream. Cover with remaining pastry. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove and cool completely before refrigerating. Best eaten cold to accentuate the lemon flavours. Dust with icing sugar and grate fresh lemon peel on top. Serve with whipped cream and seasonal fruit such as persimmon.
Serves 8 as dessert (pictured)
Wine: Botrytis riesling.
Finely slice tuna and distribute on 4 plates. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds. Plunge into iced water. Peel and de-seed. Cut flesh into small cubes. Mix with parsley, capers, lemon juice, rind and olive oil. When ready to serve, use a spoon to dress tuna, mixing dressing before spooning onto each plate. Lightly season with salt and pepper and serve.
Serves 4 as a light first course
Wine: Hunter semillon.