Spaghettini with anchovy and flagfish: Gennarino Esposito’s recipe

A dish that brings to the table the purest tradition of Campania: the spatula fish, also called flagfish or scabbard fish, once a poor peasants’ meal (to the point that sometimes fishermen even preferred to throw it back into the sea), today it can be found in the menus of great chefs thanks to the delicate taste of its meat; the “Colatura di alici” of Cetara, which is the modern version of the Garum sauce used by the Ancient Romans to flavour their dishes, rediscovered by the Amalfi monks in the 13th century and, last but not least, the walnuts of Sorrento with their unmistakable flavour whose traces are said to have been found even in the excavations of Pompeii.

Spaghettini with anchovy and flagfish: Gennarino Esposito’s recipe

First course
Preparation time 35-40 minutes
Recipe that serves 6

Ingredients needed for walnut pesto:

35 grams of toasted dry walnuts
20 grams of toasted pine nuts
20 grams of well-squeezed stale bread softened in tomato water
10 g of minced capers
10 grams of extra virgin olive oil
5 grams of toasted pistachios
5 g of pitted black olives
2 anchovy fillets
half a clove of garlic
salt and pepper as required

Ingredients needed for fried flagfish:

250 grams of frying oil
200 grams of flagfish fillet cut into pieces
100 g of white flour
50 grams of Parmigiano Reggiano
2 eggs
salt and pepper as required

Ingredients needed for spaghettini:

480 grams of spaghettini
50 grams of walnut pesto
20 grams of anchovy sauce
3 tablespoons of garlic
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, two sprigs of fennel, two sprigs of parsley, the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper


Walnut pesto: blend together pine nuts, walnuts and pistachios. Now add the stale bread and the oil flush. While keeping on blending add the last ingredients, then season with salt and set aside.

Fried flagfish: beat the eggs with Parmigiano plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Separate the flagfish and add the flour to the previously beaten eggs, mix to incorporate. When the oil is hot, fry the flagfish, when you’re finished drain and place on absorbent paper.

Spaghettini: mix in a bowl anchovy sauce, chopped fennel, chopped parsley, 20 grams of walnut pesto, juice of half a lemon, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and finally 3 tablespoons of minced garlic. Cook the spaghettini in abundant salted water, then drain and pour into the bowl, mix the spaghettini away enough from the cooker and serve.

Dish composition: wrap up the spaghettini and place it in the center of the plate adding a quenelle of walnuts and finally also the cold flagfish.

°° Translated from Italian to English by Gerardo Iannacci, email:

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