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Flour gnocchi with scrum An elegant meatless recipe from Bari to make the menu on the eve of feast-days more original and interesting by Dario Ersetti
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Flour gnocchi with scrum. Photo by Dario Ersetti

Feast-days are generally celebrated with a good lunch. In Catholic countries, where sweets can only be eaten “out of devotion”, people prefer to follow the tradition, which imposes a rigorous eve of the feast-day, with either fasting or meatless dishes. In the winter months, with not much work in the fields and short days, with the feast of the new wine and the feast of pig butchering, people eat pittule (typical Apulian dough fritters), which are never missing on December 7, the eve of the Immaculate Conception, along with rape nfucate (turnip tops sautéd over a hot fire with oil and chili). The same thing happens at Christmas.

We are suggesting a Barese recipe, meatless but more elegant: gnocchi made of flour with scrum. In Puglia, too, town recipes are different than ones from the country.

Gnocchi made of flour are certainly much older than those made of potato, so, in order to preserve their “ancient” pre-Columbus spirit, we have to avoid not only potatoes but also tomatoes. A salted fish, such as mackerel or anchovy, will do very nicely. This is a classic meatless dish, found all over Puglia like all the dishes of fish preserved in salt. Scrum is mackerel in Bari dialect and it was also preserved in salt like anchovies, herrings and salted codfish. Today, with meatless dishes out of fashion, mackerel too seems to be getting more and more uncommon and we are just left with the other kinds of fish, though they are becoming rarer.

Gnocchi can be replaced by any shape of pasta and instead of bread crumbs, grated bread can be used, though the result will not be as classy.

 

The recipe

 

Ingredients:

 

- 500 g of flour 00
- 1/2 l of water
- 1.5 dl of extravirgin olive oil
- 100 g of soft bread crumbs
- 1 large salted mackerel or 100 g of salted anchovies
- 1 clove of garlic
- finely chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

 

Bone the mackerel and rinse the salt off under running water. Fry the fish flesh cut into small pieces in boiling oil with the minced garlic. Toast the bread crumbs in the oven. In a pan bring 1/2 liter of water to the boil, remove from the fire and add the flour all at once. Stir very quickly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture is smooth tip it out still warm onto the board, knead, and make long thin rolls of dough, then cut them in gnocchi size and press each one with the prongs of a fork or similar utensil and throw them into the boiling salted water. Cook until they come to the surface, drain, dress with the oil and fish and sprinkle with bread crumbs, parsley and a little pepper.

Warning: as with all dishes of salted fish, you need to be careful with the salt.

An older recipe calls for the fish bones to be fried in the oil, then removed and filtered, and for the fish flesh to be fried in the same oil. In this way the flavor is intensified and one could therefore save by using a smaller amount of fish.

This dish doesn’t sound very exciting, but if you decide to salt the mackerel at home, you will get a result of great elegance, a far cry from pasta with anchovies.

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