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I vacationed in Vasto many times as a child and presently have relatives living there. I visited last year and had the pleasure of savoring the Brodetto Vastese once again. For anyone going to Vasto trying the brodetto is a must.
What is a Brodetto and what makes the brodetto vastese spectacular? Brodetto is a fish soup. What makes this one unique is the use of local fish and seafood from the Adriatic. The brodetto is a “poor” dish found in many localities along the Abruzzo coast. What makes the brodetto vastese special and unique is the simple method of preparation: no wine, no water added, no frying involved.
Even the pot called coccio is very important in the preparation and presentation of the dish. A coccio is a terracotta pot capable of maintaining the dish hot even after cooking.
The ingredients are an assorted variety of fish like clams, mussels, shrimps, squid, 3 fresh tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sprigs of basil and Italian parsley. sweet pepper (I prefer hot pepper), salt and fresh black pepper.
The fish (pesce) must be of different types depending on the season and the availability, but generally rock fish. (scorpion fish, weaver, cuttlefish, red mullet).
Procedure: Pour ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil in the pot or coccio, add sliced garlic and fresh chopped tomatoes and let it simmer gently for 15 minutes, add the thicker fish first, cook for 10 minutes, add pepper, chopped basil and parsley and the rest of the fish. Continue to cook an additional 5 minutes in medium heat and the dish is ready to serve. The coccio will continue to simmer once removed from the stove.
Important – During the cooking process, do not turn the fish but gently rock the pot back and forth.
Once the brodetto is brought to the table, it’s accompanied solely by toasted, artisan bread seasoned with a little olive oil, and depending on tastes, rubbed with garlic and, of course, a good wine.