Brodetto is made from fish with low market value because of the small demand due to quality, quantity (not enough of it) or size (it is too small). They were, however, appreciated by the fishermen who used to eat them whilst they were on their fishing expeditions, saving the best catches for the market.
The legend tells that the “brodetto” was born by accident. On a normal day, the fisherman would cook this dish in wine; however one day, a fisherman used the “acetella” (wine turned into vinegar) instead and discovered that it actually made the dish more flavoursome and tasty. They never looked back and have used vinegar ever since. Another ingredient that you would not find missing from a fisherman’s boat is tomato paste and it is always present in the “brodetto from Fano”.
The recipe for the “Traditional Brodetto from Fano” has been filed with a notary deed by the Confraternita of Brodetto (Brotherhood of the fish soup from Fano). It specifies that the fish used in a traditional “brodetto” must be from the following: mantis shrimp, dogfish, gurnard, stargazer fish, monkfish, stingray, St. Peter's fish, scorpion fish, cuttlefish, weaver fish. The International Festival of the Brodetto e delle Zuppe di Pesce (Brodetto and Fish Soup), which ran from the 12th to the 14th of September 2014 was established twelve years ago in order to promote and raise awareness of the “Brodetto from Fano” all over the world. During the years the Festival has grown and evolved, becoming one of the main fish and wine events in Italy.
This year the traditional recipe of the Brodetto from Fano has been reinterpreted in an innovative and original way. The festival opened up with an international ‘brodetto championship’ where three chefs representing Croatia, Italy and Albania battled it out for the best brodetto recipe. Damir Modrušan, a famous Croatian chef from the Istrian restaurant Zigante in Levade introduced a "Jelly mullet soup with leeks and spinach served with oysters, truffles and raspberries flavoured with star anise”.
The second chef, the Italian Errico Recanati, from the restaurant Andreina in Loreto (one Michelin star) presented the dish "The gnocchi that got lost in the soup" a stuffed gnocchi with fish “drowned” in a soup of brodetto with textures of raw fish. Lastly, the Albanian chef Bledar Kola from the restaurant and relais Villa Toscana in Tirana created a dish especially for the event, "Ilirika" (which is a fusion of two Albanian words: Ilir-that refers to the ancient region Iliria of the first millennium BC, which included the territories along the Adriatic coast of Croatia and Albania, and lirika, which means lyrical music), with the endemic trout of Lake Ohrid, on the border with Macedonia.
The Italian chef, Errico Recanati, was proclaimed the winner of the international championshiop as the jury was won over by the perfume and taste of his brodetto – a fine balance between the delicate filling of the gnocchi and the strong personality of the soup, which evoked the flavours of the sea. The other two runner ups obtained joint second prize.
In the following days four remarkable chefs cooked, each in their own way, the brodetto during the sessions of show cooking. Dishes were created out of the conventional with skill and boldness. Moreno Cedroni, renowned chef of La Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia (two Michelin stars) proposed the "Brodetto Sushi", which he brilliantly created back in year 2000. The innovative dish, avant-garde already fourteen years ago, was a huge success. Mussels and crabs were the elements characterizing the dish in a fish broth with diced tomatoes and the unusual inclusion of Carnaroli rice.
Cedroni also delighted the audience with a "Roast beef of white tuna", in which he has woven the flavours of the sea with those of the meat, together with the broth used to cook the minced beef. The tuna, "seared" outside, with a raw and buttery heart inside, was served on a celeriac sauce, sprinkled with crispy Jerusalem artichokes. Antonio Corrado, chef of the restaurant Il Napoleon in Ancona presented the "Take-away Brodetto", a soup with the consistency of cream, in a tube, a skewer of fish used for the brodetto and croutons. This dish was followed by the more traditional soup "Small fish meet the cuttlefish bread", with the first-ever preview of the bread with cuttlefish created by the chef for the event, to accompany fish fillets, each served with an aromatic herb, set on a bed of soup.
The chef Michele Biagiola, from the restaurant Enoteca Le Case in Macerata (one Michelin star) presented two soups: "Soup of mantis shrimp, yellow tomatoes, blackberries and leaves of mustard" and "Octopus cooked in wine first and then roasted with rosemary", two very refined plates, made up of a single variety of fish.
Finally Riccardo Agostini, chef of Ristorante Il Piastrino (one Michelin star), in Pennabilli proposed "My Brodetto of Fano, "an upturned plate, a palette of colours and flavours, composed of several raw fish (which traditionally make up the soup) each accompanied by an element (eg. garlic, onion, caper powder, powdered black olives, ...), and "Ravioli of Brodetto" with the brodetto contained inside the ravioli.
The next appointment is for 2015, for a more international festival, which includes the involvement of all the eight countries of the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).