Marcus Gavius Apicius was a gourmet cook in first century Rome. Stories about him abound in Roman literature. He once outfitted a ship and set sail for what is now Libya, simply because he heard that the largest shrimp in the world were found there. Pliny the Elder credits him with the idea of force feeding figs to geese to increase the size of their livers, which means that the popular French dish of foie gras is actually Italian in origin, not French. His cookbooks were published and re-copied throughout Rome. Two hundred years after his death, a good cook was still known as "an Apicius".
Ius in cordula assa: Piper, ligusticum, apii semen, mentam, rutam, careotam, mel, acethm, vinum et oleum. Convenit et in sarda.
Sauce for young roasted tuna: Pepper, lovage, celery seed, mint, rue, dates, honey, vinegar, wine and oil. This can also be used for bonito (Another member of the tuna family).
- 2 Halibut steaks
- 1 cup flour
- 20 dates
- 1 cup wine
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 3 Tablespoons celery leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon mint leaves
Pit and mince the dates. Grind celery seed, mint leaves and pepper in a mortar. Add dates and ground spices to wine along with olive oil, vinegar, and honey. Lovage is a member of the celery family, so I substituted celery leaves instead. Rue is an aromatic herb that I can only get at Pennsic, so I omitted it. Heat the sauce in a frying pan until it starts to bubble.
Lightly flour the fish steaks. It's not period, but I find the easiest way to flour any kind of meat is to dump the flour and the meat into a zip-lock baggie. Seal it shut, shake vigourously, remove the meat and toss the baggie. No mess, and one less dish to wash.
When sauce starts to bubble, add the fish steaks. Do leave the frying pan untended. The wine will evaporate quickly. Turn the fish steaks at least once and make sure that both sides are well coated with sauce. When the fish starts to fall apart, it's done.
This recipe got mixed reviews. My wife didn't care for it, I liked it. I originally used a full teaspoon of pepper, which may have been a tad too much.