Capón Magro

A whole steamed lobster next to a medly of seafood topped with green sauce
Photo by Meg Baggott / Food Styling by Katherine Rosen

Courtesy Paolo Laboa, chef, Solo Italiano, Portland, Maine

This cake-styled dish takes effort, but its layered, flavor-packed results are worth it. Don’t be confused by the name, though. In this instance, capón isn’t fowl, but a Ligurian word for a particular red, mullet-like fish popular in the region. Halibut makes a great substitute.

Feast of the Seven Fishes
  • 1 pound carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound beets, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound green beans, roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds yellow potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds mussels
  • 1 pound scallops
  • 12 extra jumbo shrimp
  • 2 1¼-pound lobsters
  • 2 pounds halibut
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil, to drizzle
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil all vegetables separately, until just tender. Let cool.

When cool enough to touch, dice all together, place in large bowl, and add olive oil. Can be prepared 1 day in advance and refrigerated overnight.

Steam mussels (5 minutes), scallops (7 minutes) shrimp (5 minutes) and lobsters individually (11 minutes). Set each aside. Reserve liquid from mussels.

Heat oven to 400°F.

Drizzle halibut with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment paper with wine. Place in shallow baking dish, and cook for 25 minutes. Set aside.

Salsa Verde Ingredients
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
  • 4 fillets salt-packed anchovies (2 whole)
  • 1 3-inch piece sourdough bread, soaked in red wine vinegar

Combine first four ingredients in blender. Add next four ingredients and blend again. Squeeze out excess vinegar in bread, and add to the mix. Blend until smooth. Season, to taste.

Final Dish Ingredients
  • 6–7 slices sourdough bread, ½-inch thick

Place bread slices in red wine vinegar and mussel broth until soaked through. Gently press out liquid from sourdough slices.

On large oval platter, arrange slices next to each other to create layer. Add layer of halibut, and coat with a thin layer of salsa verde. Top with layer of crushed vegetables. Continue creating layers in a round or oval shape. Top with salsa verde and add more along sides.

Add mussels in their shells around outside base of cake. Place scallops around center of cake. Add shrimp atop and around the edges of cake. Place lobsters atop cake as if they’re fighting. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve in slices. Serves 8–10.

Pair It

La Ginestraia 2016 Pigato (Riviera Ligure di Ponente). Aromas of field flower, yellow stone fruit and beeswax float out of the glass. The fresh elegant palate offers ripe apple, pear and citrus while a dollop of vanilla provides backup. It’s balanced and interesting, with crisp acidity and a lightly mineral, savory finish.

Published on December 7, 2018