Where the Adriatic and Ionian Sea meet and kiss, you’ll find some of the most fresh seafood in Europe. In the turquoise waters of Salento, off shore from Maldive-like, white beaches or craggy cliffs, an abundance of fish, clams, crabs, squids and all kinds of shellfish are caught fresh in the morning only to arrive at your plate in time for lunch or dinner.
There are so many tasty options, just waiting to be discovered. Take advantage of your location amongst these prime waters. Skip the pizza and start probing the seafood!
Hungry? Let’s surf together through the tasty Frutti di Mare of Salento in the south of Italy:
Linguine al Mare – Pasta with seafood
Pasta with seafood comes in many variations. Just think how many different different types of pasta you can get in Italy, then square this with the number of seafood you can catch. Usually spaghetti, linguine or another thin pasta type is used, as this has the best chance to capture a runny seafood sauce. You may find pieces of fish or squid in there but definitely some clams or mussels and shrimps. MUST be enjoyed with some good bread, as to soak up the last sauce.
Profumo di Mare, Torre Vado. Lunch with Linguine al Profumo di Mare for two with one glass of white wine and a bottle of sparkling water was 46€.
Gamberoni Rosso di Gallipoli – King of Prawns
The King Prawns of Gallipoli are said to be among the best in the world. Succulent, sweet and salty, they are best savoured raw, but this version – with just a drizzle of breadcrumbs on top – makes it a bit more filling dish and complements the sweet meat perfect. While Gamberi are the normal-sized prawns, Gamberoni are the slightly bigger king prawns.
Stella Del Mare, Torre Pali. The Gamberoni were 7€ per 100g and my serving amounted to 300g.
Bottarga – Caviar of the Mediterranean
While caviar comes from the wild sturgeon in the Caspian and Black Sea, Bottarga is a salty, cured speciality that will give your pasta a certain kind of zest.
Bottarga is roe from mullet or tuna that is compressed, dried and cured in sea salt for a few weeks. When grated over pasta, it affords your food another depth, much like fish sauce provides a dish with another dimension. It’s the seafood umami, that you just have to try if you have the chance!
My Carbonara di Mare rifinita alla Bottarga was refined wit a light sprinkle of Bottarga and went perfectly with a rosé wine – something they make very well here in Puglia!
Tormaresca, Lecce. Carbonara di Mare rifinita alla Bottarga was 13€. Dinner with starters and a glass of wine each amounted to 66€
Insalata di Mare
I must admit: I do not usually opt for food with suction cups. Octopus and squids freak me out when they’re alive. But in an Insalata di Mare they are not. When prepared fresh and proficient, they are tender, yet with bite and in a good seafood salad you will discover textures, densities and flavours, that will delight the curious foodie traveller.
You’ve got to taste it super fresh, somewhere where they know exactly how to treat the different kinds of squids – cause you know: there are 800 different species. Besides squids and octopus, you might find mussels, clams, prawns and calamari in your seafood salad.
Stella del Mare, Torre Pali. Insalata di Mare is 12€ for a starter and can easily be shared between two curious foodies.
Cozza Tarantina – Queen of Mussels
The mussel of Taranto is called the “queen of Italian mussels”, because of its rosy or yellow fleshy meat that is very tasty, low in fat and rich in iron. With its many mussel farms, Taranto was once the largest producer of mussels and oysters in the world. This means, that a trip to Puglia in general and Taranto in particular is not complete without a taste of those famed mussels.
We tried Cozze Gratinate – mussels baked with breadcrumbs – and Frittelle di Cozze – mussels dipped in batter and deep fried – as part of Antipasto Stella at the restaurant Stelle del Mare in Torre Pali as well as Tubettini alle Cozze – small pasta tubes with mussels – at Ristò Fratelli Pesce in Taranto.
Antipasto Stella was a veritable seafood feast for 15€ and Tubettini alle Cozze was only 8€ .
Perhaps you would like to discover the baroque beauty of Lecce, learn more about The Peculiar Trulli of Puglia or explore the Top3 Natural Wonders of Puglia. Here are some other helpful links to discover Puglia: