A few years ago I bought a cookbook called A16. The book is named after an autostrada in Italy, A16, a road that starts on the west coast at Naples and slaloms east across the country to the Adriatic Sea. The authors take inspiration from this rustic strip of the country, calling up rose-colored memories of the region’s people and simple food right before pulling back and slinging recipes for char-kissed Neapolitan pizza, chestnut polenta, and octopus soup (which we once made).
Allie and I have been cooking from the book for years. I don’t mess around with the whole-animal butchering or the esoteric wine pairings, but the book is a good one when we want to test our technical skills, learn something, and eat like the penniless kings who work the sun-blasted fields of the Italian South.
We also wanted to eat this way when we went to San Francisco. And we did, because that’s where the folks at A16 have a brick-and-mortar restaurant, right in the Marina district. It was pretty cool to go to A16 after cooking from the restaurant’s cookbook for so long. Easily, EASILY… best pizza this side of Vesuvius.
On to the fish, adapted from the book:
This cookbook recipe is for halibut topped with pistachios and preserved lemon. Cod is half the price of halibut, and Allie baked all of our preserved lemons into a crazy quinoa bread the night before. Ah, the drive to improvise!
I smothered the fish with toasted pistachios, roasted tomatoes, thyme, lemon rind, a tablespoon of capers, and an aggressive shake of red pepper flakes. Then I filled the pan with water so that the water came halfway up the fish (which the book specifies precisely, and which cooks the fish perfectly). Finally: into the oven.
400 degrees. 12 minutes. This one was molto bene. -Chris