About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Shrimp with Tomatoes and Chili Pepper | Main | Baked Bluefish Fillets with Potatoes, Garlic and Olive oil, Genoese Style »

Baked Whole Fish Stuffed with Shellfish


I hope you like fish with it's head on, or you won't like this picutre. It's an Alaskan Rockfish, not a very pretty fish.

I was really looking forward to making this recipe. It sounded delicious. Take a whole boned fish, stuff it with clams, mussels, shrimp, onions, lemon juice, and bread crumbs and bake. I went to the seafood store knowing that they always have fresh red snapper. That day they had none. The only appropriate-sized whole fish was an Alaskan Rock fish. Something we catch all of the time. A good, but rather mild white fish. I was impressed that the fishmonger was able to bone the whole fish. But I had negleted to bring Marcella's directions with me and he boned it not from the slit in the belly, but from the back. Even though I asked him to leave the head and tail on, he cut off the tail. As you can tell from the picture, he did not cut off the head. So I brought my fish home, and began preparing the dish. Wash and scrub the clams and mussels, and briefly cook until they open their shells. Remove the meat from the shells, and place in a bowl with garlic, sliced onion, shrimp, lemon juice, and olive oil and bread crumbs. Place in the fish cavity, and wrap in parchment paper. Bake until the fish is done, 35-45 minutes. I followed all directions except that my fish was a little smaller than the one called for. I wasn't going to use all of the filling since my fish was smaller, but it fit inside the fish just fine so I used it all. Okay, now the results-my first failure out of all of the recipes I've made. I'm not sure what happened, but the bread crumbs had just turned to the texture of paste. All of the beautiful shellfish wasted. Luckily it was only a girlfriend that was over for dinner, but we couldn't eat it. I thought about tyring to place it under a broiler to see if it would cook correctly, but I didn't think that would work. The fish was cooked perfectly, it was just the filling that was wrong. Luckily, we had started with a Caprese Salad, and had two wonderful side dishes you'll read about when we get to the vegetable section-Braised Artichokes and Peas and Fresh Mushrooms with Porcini, Rosemary, and Tomatoes.

Marcella, could you shed any light on what may have gone wrong?

Comments (3)

Oh Cindy, all this time I was hoping you would draw this recipe because I thought it would be perfect for you and your ability to get such beautiful fish!

Marcella made this for us once in class. I looked at my notes and she said to use very few bread crumbs, just enough to hold the oil.

We make this on occasion for special seafood loving friends and the presentation always elicits oohs and aahs. We use salmon as our fish and we sometimes add scallops to the stuffing, it just depends on what is fresh that day.

I hope you try it again, I just know you would love it.

Suzy: Thanks for your comments. Maybe I just used too many bread crumbs. Who knows. It was very frustrating to have something not turn out that I was looking so forward to . I guess we all have to have a failure sometime. I'll try to make it again in the future.
Cindy Ruth

Marcella Hazan:

Buon giorno Cindy Ruth, that's cooking isn't it? Here is one of my most reliable recipes in the hands of a very reliable cook and poof! Disaster. Years ago I was invited to demonstrate a dish at the CIA in Greystone, California. It was an overflow crowd packed into the auditorium and since they wanted to offer tiny tastes they asked one of the senior instructors to make the same dish by my side. We used the same recipe and the same ingredients. His tasted okay, mine was delicious. Alchemy, the audience said. Your dish: Boning it from the back was a poor decision. The bread crumbs I use are fine and dry, neither powdery or soft. How were yours? Directions are one thing, but they don't substitute judgement, the amount of bread crumbs you use is related to the size of the shellfish. The cause of your disaster then was either the wrong kind of bread crumbs and/or too many of them. I have made this fish more times than I could remember and it is now a mainstay of my son's, who uses salmon.

Marcella-Thanks for the comments. I will try making this again. I hate to admit it, but I think I know what the problem may have been. The breadcrumbs I used were the canned Progesso breadcrumbs. Since there wasn't a lot used, and it was mainly just a binding agent, I thought they would be fine. Maybe they were too fine or too dry. Do you think that could have been the problem? I wish we were going to be able to fish more so I would have a fresh whole salmon to use to make this again. We leave for Italy and France in 2 weeks, and will have to winterize the boat before we go. I only have fillets frozen, no whole fish.
Cindy Ruth

Marcella Hazan:

Oh, poor Cindy Ruth, all that good stuff and hard work spoiled by the terrible, terrible Progresso breadcrumbs. Please chuck them out instantly. We eat a lot of bread, but even if you don't, you can buy good, plain bread free of ingredients extraneous to simple bread, preferably not whole wheat, and certainly not multi-grain. Dry it in a 200 to 300 degree oven for a couple of hours, or even leave it overnight in the oven after you have baked anything, but shutting it off of course. Cut up the very dry, cold bread, and grind it in the food processor large bowl, several batches at a time if you have a lot, then pass it through a medium fine strainer. Store it in the refrigerator in a tightly closing tin or glass container. It will keep almost forever and you will always have honest, plain crumbs for a thousand uses.

I wish you a perfect time abroad. Perhaps you can stop off in Florida on your way back. Thank you for all the conscientious cooking.

Marcella-I will throw out the Progesso breakcrumbs and make my own. Obviously, this was an expensive mistake I made. I never thought about making the breadcrumbs and storing in the refrigerator.

Thank you for your nice wishes on my trip. I will have a wonderful time in Umbria, Tuscany, and Paris. I wish I could stop through Fl on the way, but I'm flying Anchorage-Seattle-Paris, so no Eastern flying for me this trip. I hope in the future there is an opportunity to visit with you in FL.
Cindy Ruth

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 9, 2010 1:30 AM.

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