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Courtesy Ken Vedrinski, owner/executive chef, Trattoria Lucca, Charleston, SC

Vedrinski discovered his love of cooking in his Abruzzo-born Italian grandmother’s kitchen. “For us, they serve a lot of crudo where my family is from on the Adriatic,” says Vedrinski. His restaurant offers an annual Feast of the Seven Fish dinner. “My grandma always did this.”

Ingredients

8 ounces kosher salt

½ cup sugar

2 oranges, zested and juiced 
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted and ground

1 tablespoon chili flakes

1½ pounds flounder fillets (or another light white fish like sole)

⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar

4–5 ribs of celery, finely diced, plus leaves, roughly chopped

6 large basil leaves, torn

¼ teaspoon Calabrian chili oil
Olive oil, to taste

Directions

Combine salt, 4 ounces sugar, orange zest, fennel and chili flakes. Press mixture into fish and cover entirely. Place fish in dish, and cover in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Wash off rub with water and pat dry. Place fish on a clean dish. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Combine orange juice, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, celery, basil and chili oil.
Add salt, to taste.

Remove fish from refrigerator. Brush platter or plate with olive oil. Place fish on platter, and slice as thinly as possible. (Cut straight down, not on angle.) Drizzle with olive oil. Top with marinade. Serves 6.

Pair It

Illuminati 2017 Costalupo (Trebbiano d’Abruzzo). Ultraripe aromas of tropical fruit, Satsuma orange and perfume waft from the glass. This is plush and ripe in feel, boasting a wealth of yellow apple, pear and sweet orange flavors, with a mild vein of acidity offering balance.