From Concrete to Trout
In the 70s, the Pighin family was known in the field of quarries, gravels and concrete. Then, Bepi Pighin’s hobby gave life to Friultrota in 1984
⏱ 3 MINUTES READING
We have known Mauro Pighin for 25 years, however every time we visit him it’s like meeting him for the first time. We discover new aspects and evolutions and we return to the company with the awareness of having many common interests: the passion for culinary arts, care for details, the desire to grow and improve... and our companies were also founded in the same year. In fact, Friultrota and Valsana were both founded in 1984, a few months apart.
Mauro, his daughter Erica, who we get to know as soon as we arrive, and the other son Angelo tell us the story of Friultrota holding a mosaic in their hands which describes the story of the company (photo at the bottom right, page 5). The artwork was given to the Pighin family as a present by the employees on the occasion of the company’s 30th anniversary, and it summarizes the salient phases of the company’s journey.
But after reading the title you may ask yourself: “what does concrete have to do with trout?”. Well they don’t have much in common, however for the Pighin family the bond is solid.
Mauro’s father Giuseppe, known as Bepi Pighin, who worked in the field of gravels and quarries near the Tagliamento river in San Daniele del Friuli, had the passion for fishing. One day, just like the start of a fairy tail, we threw a thousand trout fingerlings in a pond for fun. He took care of them and a few years later he found himself with fish of 7/8 kg, and he had to decide what to do with them.
The quality of the fish was excellent, however the product could not be sold fresh, it was non-standard for the market.
So Bepi thought: “why don’t we transform it into a ready to use product? How can we think that a young lady who lives in an apartment has the time to take a fish, debone it and cook it?”. A real vision, it was the end of the 70s.
Before founding the company he felt the need to develop, even in a rudimentary way, a method to actualize the brilliant idea, and he had another intuition: the wagon of a train. Yes, a true wagon, one of those that had served as a shelter for objects rescued from homes after the 1976 earthquake occurred in north Italy.
Bepi covered it in stainless steel, and transformed it into a research and development laboratory, next to the pond that he was turning into a trout farm. Close your eyes and imagine the scene, it’s fantastic!
Hours and hours inside the wagon began to bear fruit, and the smoking method was developed. In 1984 the company was founded in the headquarters of a former slipper factory and the Regina di San Daniele trout was born, to keep the king company, the prosciutto di San Daniele ham.
From the beginning great emphasis was given to the healthiness of the trout farm: fresh water drawn from the Tagliamento River and its springs, low density of fish per cubic meter of water, respect for natural growth times, and the use of feed containing fish oil and fishmeal as similar as possible to natural food.
The research and enhancement of naturalness also emerge on the finished product, we noticed this walking across the production department with Mauro. The obsessive preciseness in deboning the fillets, the skilful smoking method based on beech wood (cold smoking for the Regina trout and salmon, hot smoking for Fil di Fumo and Trote dello Chef) and the absence of preservatives characterize it. Mauro and the production department manager Daniele confessed that a good smoking must not be aggressive, it must not be the protagonist.
It’s incredible to see how 30-year-old smoking chambers are still intact and spotless: you would expect to see black stains everywhere, instead a regular and painstaking cleaning gives the chambers a neat and shiny appearance, as you can see on the cover.
Needless to say that there is no addition of liquid smoke and that the production process is slow, and takes 4/5 days for the Regina di San Daniele.
A splendid cold smoked trout fillet, rich in Omega-3 and noble proteins and low in fat. It’s elegant on the palate and absolutely not less worthy of a salmon; it’s sweet and soft at first and it gradually reveals a light flavour and a very balanced smoking, in the total absence of unpleasant hints of mud or stale fish.
Absolutely appreciable pure, but also very valid in the kitchen, on a white pizza with mixed salad, squacquerone cheese and Taggiasca olives, or simply served on a buttered crouton, or lightly seared to enrich an orzotto with seasonal vegetables.
We ate the latter together in a tavern in San Daniele: every good encounter has to end with a good dish! We chatted a lot, some new ideas emerged as well as some memories, we exchanged opinions on the market situation and on the next fairs with Andrea, their sales manager.
We are certain about their seriousness; it’s no coincidence they have been accompanying us in this adventure for many years. Long life to our collaboration!
Alessandro De Conto