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Marinated Poached Italian Seafood Salad: Insalata Frutti di Mare

Marinated Poached Italian Seafood Salad: Insalata di Frutti di Mare

Marinated Poached Italian Seafood Salad or Insalata Frutti di Mare is a favourite dish from Southern Italy served for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Course Salad
Cuisine Canadian Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8
Author Valerie Lugonja


For the Salad:

  • 1 pound or 0.5k large shrimp , peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound or 0.5k medium scallops
  • 1.5 pound or 0.75k squid , cleaned
  • 1 pound or 0.5k baby octopus
  • 1 large stalk celery , green and fresh
  • 1 bunch flat leafed parsley , fresh and fragrant, leaves only

For the Poaching Liquid:

  • 2 litres of water or 1 liter of water and 1 liter of white wine
  • Pinch of salt
  • aromatics such as: bay leaf , carrot, celery, onion and fresh herbs
  • slices of fresh lemon (if not using the wine)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 lemons , one zested and all juiced (3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves , peeled and minced
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil (the best you can find)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Before you start:

  1. Thaw all seafood, if frozen
  2. Four pots with 1/4 of the poaching liquid in each, for faster preparation
  3. Poach each in clean poaching liquid

Preparing the Seafood: read all instructions here before starting

  1. The squid will need to be sliced into 1/4 inch slices; cut off the heads and discard the innards maintaining the tentacles
  2. When the poaching liquid comes to a boil, immediately place one of the first four ingredients into the poaching liquid )The water does not have to return to a boil to start the cooking time; the seafood will begin to cook as soon as it hits the hot water):
  3. Shrimp: as soon as each turns pink (almost immediately) poach for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds; depending upon the size of your shrimp (taste one)
  4. Scallops:: as soon as each turns opaque (almost immediately) poach for 1 minute; depending upon the size of your scallop (taste one)
  5. Squid: the rounds will be cooked almost immediately, if baby squid or, about 40 seconds; taste one as this will depend upon the size, but be fast for best and most tender results (as soon as they hit the water and turn opaque, really)
  6. Octopi: as soon as each turns opaque and purple (almost immediately, similar to squid) poach for less than 1 minute for the smallest of the baby octopi to 1.30 minutes for the largest of the small baby octopi (which I didn't end up using in my salad: taste one)
  7. Using a small sieve, remove each from hot water immediately and lay on clean cloth to cool and dry (I do not stop the cooking process in an ice bath)
  8. Once all fish are poached, pat dry; do not toss together, yet

For the Dressing:

  1. Mince the garlic; add one teaspoon of salt to the garlic on the cutting board and use a fork to emulsify the garlic
  2. Combine the juice and zest, the emulsified garlic, the olive oil and the pepper

Putting it all Together:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all cooled poached seafood with the dressing, parsley leaves and celery
  2. Taste; add the remaining salt and more pepper, as necessary
  3. Seal well and marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours

Recipe Notes

Some people add aromatics to the poaching liquid. I have actually done that and didn't find it made any difference whatsoever. The seafood is cooked so quickly in the liquid and spends so much more time in the marinade, that any flavour that seeped into it during the poaching process was negligible after marinating. I have never added wine, but have that same attitude about using it.
It may seem the seafood is not cooked long enough, but better to be under cooked than over cooked as the dressing is full of citrus and any underdone morsels will finish "cooking" by the dressing