Dish of the Week: Fritto Misto

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a dish perfect for your Feast of the Seven Fishes spread: Fritto Misto.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes – aka The Vigil – is an Italian and Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition which features seven courses of, you guessed it, fish and other seafood. The custom of eating seafood on Christmas Eve stems from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence from meat and animal fats during holy times.

The feast typically consists of some combination of baccala (salt cold), anchovies, lobster, smelts, octopus, shrimp, mussels, clams, sardines, whiting, octopus, and squid, with popular dishes including linguine with clams, octopus salad, clams Casino, shrimp cocktail, and fried calamari – the last of which is often a component in Italian fritto misto.

Roughly translated to “mixed fry”, fritto misto is a mix of seafood and sometimes vegetables that get coated in a light batter and deep-fried to a crisp. Any frutti di mare (fruits of the sea) can be incorporated, but this recipe, from Saveur, uses shrimp, small fish like smelt or sardines, and squid. Lemon wedges and aioli make the perfect accompaniment. 

Fritto Misto

Ingredients serves 4
5 cups plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup canola oil
1 cup Wondra flour
1?2 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp. semolina
1?8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1?8 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1?2 lb. large tail-on shrimp, peeled
1?2 lb. small fish, such as smelt or sardines, cleaned, butterflied, and deboned
1?2 lb. squid, cut into 1?2" rings
3 cups salad greens, such as arugula
Lemon wedges, for serving

For the aïoli: (1 cup)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1 cup pale golden extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste


Pour 5 cups olive oil and the canola oil into a 4-qt. saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 330°.

Prepare aioli

Meanwhile, combine the flour, cornstarch, semolina, cayenne, sugar, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Working in 4 batches, add a fourth of the shrimp, fish, and squid. Toss to coat. Shake off excess flour, transfer seafood to oil, and fry, stirring, until crunchy, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seafood to a rack set over a baking sheet and season with salt.

Allow oil to return to 330°; repeat in batches with remaining seafood. To serve, put greens into a bowl, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and squeeze a lemon wedge over greens. Toss to combine. Transfer greens to a platter and arrange fried seafood on top.

Serve immediately with aioli.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano