People 1 minute 26 April 2016

Plate stories: Massimiliano Alajmo’s Mezzi Paccheri

What goes into the Mezzi Paccheri, a signature dish at both the Alajmo family’s 3 Michelin-starred Le Calandre in Padua and one-starred Ristoranti Quadri in Venice?

How much can one learn about a chef just from a single dish? In our Plate Stories series, we take you on a delicious journey into the minds of the world’s top chefs as they unfurl the stories behind each thoughtfully plated ingredient.

Mezzi Paccheri with raw fish and Datterino tomato sauce

By Massimiliano Alajmo of Le Calandre

First served at three Michelin-starred Le Calandre in 2008, chef Massimiliano Alajmo’s Mezzi Paccheri with raw fish and Datterino tomato sauce has become a signature dish of Ristorante Quadri - the Alajmo family’s chic one-starred Italian restaurant in the heart of Venice’s Piazza San Marco - since the latter opened in 2011. “This dish is all about lightness and freshness,” says chef Alajmo.

1. Mezzi Paccheri

"This dish was created to highlight the pasta, in this case, the mezzi paccheri, a ring-shaped dry pasta. Its shape is perfect for dishes that try to strike a greater balance between the intensity of the sauce and the importance of the pasta," says chef Alajmo. The aroma or perfume of the wheat pasta combines beautifully with the lightness or the raw fish and the freshness of the tomatoes and olive oil. "And its shape and consistency brings to mind rings of calamari, an Italian favourite", Alajmo adds.

2. Datterino tomatoes

The Datterino, a type of grape tomato from Southern Italy, is particularly sweet and is ideal for this dish. To prepare the sauce, the tomatoes are made into a puree with extra virgin olive oil from Sicily, which helps to bring out the freshness in the other ingredients. For the Art at Curate series of dinners, chef Alajmo will be serving a version that works in pistachios instead.

3. Raw seafood

"The temperature of the raw seafood is key to the execution of this dish. The seafood must be really cold in order to convey its freshness. I use a mix of what is freshest at the moment, typically the Italian ricciola fish (yellowtail), which is considered by some to be the queen of the Mediterranean sea for its majestic appearance. In the summer months, we may also substitute this for scampi (langoustines) or red shrimp," says Alajmo.

4. Aromas

Capers and basil leaves are added at the end to finish the dish, highlighting the aromas of the Mediterranean, while adding a touch of acidity. Chef Alajmo observes: "This dish is very Italian at heart and also perfect for the Singapore climate."


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