Mantua is a charming town in Lombardy known for its superb Ducal Palace and paintings by Mantegna. While the Lombards are not big fish eaters, they do enjoy sea bass and freshwater fish such as pike, carp, and perch. I prepared this recipe both with sea bass and cod, and the dish was lovely and delicate. Salmon is a bit more assertive in flavor, but would work well, too.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a baking dish just large enough to hold the fish in a single layer.
In a small bowl, combine the saffron and hot water and set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
Place the fish in the prepared dish. Tuck the lemon pieces and onion, potato, zucchini, and mushroom slices in and around the fish pieces. Sprinkle with about
Roast the fish and vegetables for about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to roast until the fish is opaque when a knife tip is inserted in the center, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve at once.
Pour a Soave or Sauvignon Blanc from the Veneto. For a more festive occasion, try a sparkling wine from Lombardy, such as a Franciacorta from Bellavista, Cavalleri, or Ca’ del Bosco.
© 2004 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.