Ligurian Seafood Stew
After blanching peas, snap peas and fingerling potatoes, Andrew Carmellini adds them to a homemade mussel broth along with sea bass, clams, an herb pesto and little seafood meatballs made with shrimp, chorizo and scallops. Narrow the ingredient list to the delicious basics—shrimp, sea bass and clams. Use bottled clam broth as a stand-in for mussel broth and flavor it with spicy chorizo.
Clam Risotto with Bacon and Chives
If you buy just-shucked whole clams rather than already chopped clams in a container, use their liquid instead of the bottled clam juice; just be sure to strain it first through a paper towel to remove any grit.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Vermicelli
The thin strands of pasta soak up this spicy tomato sauce to form a flavorful mound punctuated with shrimp.
Rigatoni with Sea Bass and Tomatoes
Marc Vetri uses oversize paccherri for this seafood pasta, but rigatoni works just as well with the juicy tomato sauce and fish.
Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic
"I look forward to going to Sicily for many reasons," says Frank Castronovo of his biannual trip to southern Italy. "One of them is because I'm amazed at how many times Frank [Falcinelli] can order linguine con vongole." Their exquisite, supersimple version is packed with garlic and a judicious amount of crushed red pepper. If you prefer, shell the clams before tossing them with their juices in the pasta.
Judith's Dungeness Crab Cioppino
For Christmas Eve dinner, Judith Tirado, Michael Mina's late mother-in-law, always prepared cioppino—the San Francisco seafood stew that owes its origins to fishermen from Italy's Ligurian coast. "She'd spend a whole day infusing the broth with basil and tomatoes," Mina recalls. Now he carries on the tradition by making her hearty, briny recipe, full of crab, shrimp and clams.
Linguine Piccole with Grilled Swordfish and Parsley Anchovy Sauce
Don't let a fear of anchovies keep you from this delicious dish. They give a roundness and depth of flavor rather than a strong hit of anchovy.
Warm Seafood Salad with Pistachio and Capers
A version of this recipe was served to Oceania passengers by chef Francesco Cutrì of Ristorante Le Bocche, in the Ligurian village of Portovenere on the Italian Riviera. The shrimp-and-squid salad, with its piquant dressing of capers, olive oil and ground pistachios, was a hit.
Italian Seafood Stew
In this luscious, tomato-rich stew, Marco Canora cooks calamari slowly until it becomes supertender. He says calamari is absolutely essential to the success of the dish, because it releases its liquid as it simmers, which adds a huge amount of flavor to the sauce.
Spicy Clams with Tomatoes
The clams used in Sicily for this dish are tiny vongole veraci. American littleneck clams are too sandy and tough to use here, but the small ridged clams called cockles are perfect.
Anchovy and Roasted-Pepper Salad with Goat Cheese
For Eataly's seafood dishes, Mario Batali enlisted the help of Dave Pasternack, chef-partner at his outstanding restaurant Esca. "This gives Dave another place to play with fish," Batali says. "Plus, I don't go to the Olympics without bringing my MVPs." Together they created this earthy salad with chopped cured anchovies in the dressing.
Squid Pizza with Saffron Aioli
Michael Emanuel (an alumnus of Berkeley's Chez Panisse) tops this pizza with an irresistible mix of Provençal flavors: salty-sweet roasted squid, creamy aioli and crushed red pepper (French piment d'Espelette would also work well). The remaining aioli can be used as a dip for vegetables or a spread for sandwiches.
Fritto Misto with Fennel and Lemons
The flavors in this crispy seafood dish echo those in Grace Parisi's high-end pan roast, but Melissa Rubel chose less expensive seafood for her interpretation. "I used only a thin coating of batter—somewhere between a beer batter and tempura—so the flavor of the fish doesn't get lost," she says.
Fregola, the pearl-size Sardinian pasta that is quite similar to couscous, makes a terrific substitute for rice in this paella-style dish; it soaks up a lot of the cooking liquid from the seafood, tomato and chorizo stew and still stays nicely chewy. For such an impressive main course, it can be prepared surprisingly quickly.
Chef Matt Molina and his friends had ultrafresh shrimp in the town of Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast. His recipe here re-creates the dish. Roasting the shrimp in hot salt concentrates their sweet flavor.
Trofie Pasta with Cockles, Chiles and Black Bean Sauce
Ken Vedrinski discovered the hand-coiled pasta called trofie and the super-minerally white-wine Vermentino while traveling in Liguria.
Creamy Seafood Risotto
Fragrant, substantial Soave complements this hearty dish well.
Marinated Sardines with Fennel, Raisins and Pine Nuts
"You need a wine that can counterbalance these intense sardines," says Dan Amatuzzi of Mario Batali's quickly fried fish marinated in sweet Champagne vinegar, the classic Venetian dish sardines in saor. He selects a Verdicchio from Le Marche with sweet pear notes.
Very Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout
This is Mario Batali's variation on a classic dish from the coastal villages outside of Trieste, where the fresh seafood is among the most prized in the world. The polenta that accompanies the shrimp must be very soft, almost saucelike. "Thick, lumpy polenta is criminal in that part of Italy, and justly so," Batali says.
Red Snapper Crudo with Watercress Pesto
At La Buca restaurant in Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast, Matt Molina and his crew tried slivers of raw orata, a meaty local white fish, embellished simply with agretti pesto. Since orata is harder to find in the U.S., this recipe calls for red snapper.
Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
Chris Cosentino adds briny flavor to his pasta with cured tuna heart. He shaves it on right before serving. This recipe calls for anchovies, rather than the tuna heart Cosentino uses. Egg yolks form a silky sauce.
Tuna-and-Tomato Pizza with Aioli
"As a child, I hated pizza, especially the chewy kind they make in Tuscany, where I grew up," Piero Incisa della Rocchetta says. "Later, I discovered pizza could be thin and crunchy—that changed my world." In Patagonia, chef Mauricio Couly tops crispy pizza crusts with anything from tomato and basil to the tuna and garlicky aioli here.
The farm behind La Provence raises heritage Mangalitsa pigs; John Besh uses the well-marbled ham for his swordfish. For home cooks, wrapping prosciutto or serrano ham around swordfish keeps the seafood moist and flavorful.
Cauliflower and Crab Ravioli
These impressive supersized ravioli are constructed with large rectangles of homemade pasta that are dotted with whole parsley leaves and filled with the unexpectedly alluring combination of crab and cauliflower.
Penne Rigate with Spicy Braised Swordfish
The tomato sauce here—with big pieces of flaked swordfish and slivers of jalapeño—gets nicely absorbed by the penne.
Seafood Stew with Saffron Zabaglione
To prepare this brothy stew full of wonderfully moist snapper, tender squid and plump mussels and clams, chefs at Don Alfonso teach students to prepare the ingredients separately so nothing gets over- or undercooked. A lush saffron zabaglione, which gets stirred into the stew, presents another fun challenge: to cook egg yolks in wine slowly over the gentle heat of simmering water until they're fluffy but not scrambled.
Grilled Shrimp with Oregano and Lemon
The sauce for this shrimp is a simple version of Italy's salmoriglio, typically made with lemon and herbs in a mortar. The sauce is also delicious spooned over grilled swordfish or any other meaty fish.