The Riposto market: quality and freshness from the Mediterranean

Fish is at home at Rocca delle Tre Contrade. Raw, grilled, used to dress pasta and be added to risottos, it is a fixed presence on the menu, at both lunch and dinner. Dora likes to surprise her guests every day with different recipes and varieties, following the seasons and the offerings of the Mediterranean. The sea’s proximity is one of the great blessings of Sicilian cuisine: at the fishmonger’s you can always find plenty of freshly-caught fish.

Lava rock, deep sea, and currents: fish with a unique taste

The Mediterranean is a generous and rich sea: swordfish, tuna and mahi mahi (Hemingway’s famous fish), mullet, tub gurnard, sea bass (known as branzino in the US), scorpionfish, mackerel, crustaceans, and red shrimp are some of the typical fish of the area.
The presence of Mount Etna has a great effect on rock fish: the lava rocks, in fact, end up in the sea, giving a more intense and sweet flavour to shellfish, mullets, and crustaceans. The volcano is said to be 3300 metres high; in truth it is much higher, if we consider the rocky parts below sea level. The strong currents in the Strait of Messina, which allow tuna and swordfish to pass through, also play a role, as does the depth of the water: the colour of the red shrimp, for example, is due to the fact that this variety lives beyond 300 to 400 metres, while the purple shrimp has a more intense hue because it lives at a greater depth of 500 to 700 metres. These differences are also reflected in the meat: the rarer purple shrimp has a milder taste and is meatier, crispy, and firm, perfect for serving raw. Red shrimp, on the other hand, is excellent raw, but also blanched or cooked, due to its softer texture and stronger flavour.

From the boat to the counter: a relationship built on trust

Rocca delle Tre Contrade’s trusted fishmonger is in Riposto, a few kilometres from Santa Venerina.
It is not really a market: along the street there are several fishmongers displaying their wares on the pavement and in a covered area.
They go out alone in small boats and return with buckets full of fresh fish, which they take directly to the counter. In this way, Riccardo, Dora and Jon’s supplier, is able to offer many varieties of always very fresh fish every day: a situation that is difficult to find in a market, as we usually understand the term.
Dora is in charge of buying the fish, almost every morning: she checks that it is fresh and selects the best catch, also on the advice of Riccardo, with whom she has a relationship that is mostly characterised by affectionate bickering. The fish dishes at Rocca delle Tre Contrade can rarely be planned: only the catch of the day arrives in the kitchen. When it comes to raw fish, which is particularly appreciated by guests, quality and freshness are essential: having the Ilve blast chiller at your disposal exorcises all dangers and allows you to enjoy fish in its purest, tastiest, and most authentic version.


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