In describing Renaissance dinners in Venice, visitors marveled at the table settings – glassware and forks, items unheard of in other cities – and the luxury of the repasts. Among the dishes preceding the meat were boutarghe (mullet roe), alici (whitebait), capperi (capers), olive (olives), and caviale (caviar), along with salads made with lime juice and preserved flowers. At Remi an appetizer of alici marinated in vinegar is combined with snowy, slightly bitter endive and mellowed with a rich mayonnaise. Francesco advises that if you cannot obtain cured alici, omit them. But if the radicchio of Treviso, with its long leaves is available, it can be used in place of the endives. As for making homemade mayonnaise, it’s a simple task. “And if you do not know how to make it, the mustard will help hold it together,” says Francesco. He adds that the Venetians sometimes used a little mashed potato to stabilize it. Regardless, be sure to use an egg from a reliable source.
Endives with Whitebait
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 60 gr Dijon mustard
- 4 cans anchovy filets, mashed
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) water
- 3 whole Belgian endives (witloof/chicory) cores removed
- 12 imported alici (whitebait) cured in vinegar
- 1 tsp minced fresh chives
- Place the egg yolk in a food processor, add the vinegar, mustard, and mashed anchovies, and process the mixture until smooth.
- Alternatively, place the egg yolk in a bowl and whisk in the other ingredients with the machine running slowly add the oil through the feed tube and process the mixture until it is thick.
- Or beat the oil in slowly by hand.
- Beat in the water to thin the mixture slightly.
- Spoon about 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of the sauce on each of 4 plates.
- Sliver the endives lengthwise and spread the slices over the sauce on the plates.
- Top them with the alici and sprinkle with chives.