A famous recipe of Livorno, a beautiful sea-town of Tuscany region of Italy is "Caciucco Alla Livornese", or Livorno style caciucco.
The word “caciucco” comes from the Turkish “kuciuk” which means small. In Tuscany, the word means ‘mixture’ and there are recipes of caiucco made with beef, chicken, vegetables and so on. However, the most traditional caciucco is a soup made from different types of fish, originating in Livorno due to the need to use and not waste the poorest species of fish caught in fishing nets. An ancient legend tells that a fisherman of Livorno went fishing and was caught in an unexpected storm and drowned.
He left his wife and three small children in such a miserable condition that the kids, because of starvation asked the friends of every fisherman to give them something; an octopus, a mantis shrimp, a small piece of shark, a cuttlefish. The mother, with the fishes collected from the kids, then cooked a hot dish. She picked up some vegetables and tomatoes from her vegetable garden and stir fried them with a little bit of oil, then she added the fish, some water and continued to cook. She put some slices of stale bread in a plate with the soup. The smell of this “providence” food spread out around the neighborhood and a crowd of curious people were then surprised when they realised that the lovely smell was coming from the table of the poor family. The caciucco was born!
Ingredients for 4 persons
- kg of octopus
- 4pcs of small shark
- kg of cuttlefish
- kg of mussels
- 4 mantis shrimps
- caciucco fish: 4 rock fish, 4 tub gurnards (or other similar species)
- extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic, carrot, 2 onions, bird eye’s chili, ginger, celery, sage, 300gr tomato paste
- 12 slices of stale bread
- fresh parsley for garnish
Let’s start by preparing the broth
- Fill a pot with water and put in it the carrot, one onion, the celery and the caciucco fish previously cleaned and without scales.
- In a saucepan, prepare a light sauté with extra virgin olive oil, the onion finely chopped, a bird eye’s chili and stir fry until the onion becomes golden (some like to add some ginger)
- Mashed and blend all the fish in the sauté and add the octopus, cuttlefish, pieces of small shark, mantis shrimps, mussels and tomatoes paste.
- Add the sage and some salt and let it cook.
- Meanwhile, toast the slices of stale bread and spread some garlic.
- Put the bread in a soup plate and pour on it the octopus and cuttlefish first, then the shark, mantis shrimps and the mussels. End by pouring some broth and slowly a bit of extra virgin olive oil, garnish with some fresh parsley.