After our recent gorge fest of Lasagna Napoletana and Timballo di Maccheroni alla Napoletana, we thought it was time to lighten things up a bit. And since we are in the middle of lent, it seemed the perfect time to whip up a favored secondo from the sea, Spigola al Forno.

You might know this fish simply as Sea Bass or European Sea Bass or you may have heard it called Bronzini or Branzini. Here in Napoli, this medium sized white fish with a succulent taste is known simply as la Spigola. Cooked whole, either baked (as we did) or steamed, it is a favorite staple of the Neapolitan diet.

The first step to making Spigola al Forno is obviously purchasing the fish. The best market to get fish in Napoli, Porta Nolana of course. But feeling highly unmotivated on this lazy Saturday morning, we opted instead to get our Spigola at the little fish truck that sets up along Via del Cavallerizza very near our apartment.

The prices are a bit higher, but the fish is just as fresh and it is oh so convenient. And no worries about the slimy scales or innards, the fishmonger will be more than happy to descale and clean the fish leaving you a nice clean cavity to fill with the freshest of herbs.

  
Cleaning the Spigola at the Fishmonger in Chiaia
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Spigola al Forno - A Neapolitan Recipe
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Ingredients for Spigola al Forno
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Ingredients

1 Whole Sea Bass about 1 kg
10 – 12 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
Fresh Basil
Fresh Parsley
White Wine
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

  
Spigola al Forno - Saute the Tomatoes, Onions and Herbs
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Spigola al Forno - Pour the sauce over the Spigola
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Spigola al Forno - Out of the Oven
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Method

Chop up a large bunch of parsley and about 1/3rd as much of basil
Chop the garlic and onion
Cut the tomatoes in half
Rinse the fish well and fill the cavity with a generous amount of the parsley, basil and about one clove of the chopped garlic
Set the fish into a large baking dish and salt the skin well
Generously coat a pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat
Add the onion and the remaining garlic to the pan
Stir in the tomatoes and the remaining parsley and basil
Add a dash of white wine and salt and pepper to taste
Mix well and cook over medium-high heat about 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and the onions are translucent
Pour the sauce over and around the fish
Drizzle with olive oil
Bake at 180° C for about 45 minutes
Remove the fish and sauce to a serving platter
Gently open the fish up and remove the spine and any bones

   
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Buon Appetito!