Sea urchins and they are now available (July) at the Queen Victoria Market at George The Fish Monger.
They are called ricci in Italy (di mare means from the sea) and are considered a culinary delicacy – the two most common ways to eat them are very fresh and raw with a squeeze of lemon juice (like oysters) or in a dressing for pasta. The roe (the edible part) is never cooked directly – it is much too delicate in flavor and consistency. In the pasta dish it is the hot, cooked pasta that warms (and ‘cooks’) the roe – flip and toss the roe over and over until all of the ingredients of the pasta sauce are evenly distributed.
Eating fresh fish is a serious business in Sicily – it is eaten cooked in many ways but also raw (called pesce crudo).
Traditionally, Sicilians did not serve raw fish without marinating it first in lemon juice and then dressed with olive oil and referred to as condito (in Italian) or cunzato (in Sicilian). For example fresh anchovies are gutted, cleaned and have their heads removed. They are then left in lemon juice for at least a few hours. Sometimes, the anchovies are referred to in Sicilian as anchiva cotti d’a lumia, that is, anchovies cooked by the lemon juice, and that is exactly what has happened – the acid in lemon in the marinade has done the cooking. The anchovies are then drained and dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
In Sicily, tuna and swordfish used to be the other most common types of fish eaten raw (especially as a starter) but eating other types of pesce crudo (raw fish) is becoming much more fashionable as Sicilian chefs respond to the inspirations and influences of the wider world and appreciate tastes and trends from other cultures.
Recently, I was commissioned to write an article about Sicily’s pesce crudo by Great British Chefs, a food multimedia company that publishes recipes and other cooking-related material via its website. Great British Chefs, has expanded into Italy . . . Great Italian Chefs and the article published on their website is called PESCE CRUDO.
I have always enjoyed fish markets in Sicily and this is a small segment from the article PESCE CRUDO
Fish markets and marinas
Walking through the fish markets in Sicily is always a joy; the hustle and bustle of locals seeking out the best produce among the colourful stalls and traders is what makes the island such a charming place. There is more than one fish market in Catania, but the principal market in the southwest of the Cathedral Square is one of the largest in Sicily. However, wherever you are on the island will never be too far from fresh fish.
Sicily’s fish markets have vast, colourful, varied displays of exotic specimens such as sea urchins and edible algae to the more conventional octopus, squid, tuna and swordfish. Small, live fish swim circles in buckets of sea water, snails crawl about and all types of shellfish, especially the gamberi rossi (red prawns of Sicily), look dazzling. You know the fish is fresh – their shells and scales glisten in the sun.
Swordfish and tuna, the traditional staples of Sicilian cuisine, are the centrepieces of the market stalls. They are often displayed whole, the swordfish bill like a spear thrusting upwards. At other times, their massive round carcasses lie like a trunk on the fishmonger’sbench, while the tuna is sliced vertically and horizontally before being filleted along the length of its spine, while all its parts are laid out, testifying to its freshness.
Here are more photos of Palermo and Mondello and details of a GoEuro Travel Inspiration Competition that I have entered.
Some time ago, I was contacted by a member of the marketing Team at GoEuro, a travel search engine/website that combines and compares rail, bus and air travel in one site. They are based in Berlin. GoEuro was preparing a blog feature about Sicily, with tips from well-travelled bloggers and had found my site. They asked if I’d be interested in sharing some of my recommendations within the region.
It is always good to visit Sicily in May 2016 and this time I spent most of my time mainly in South-eastern Sicily. But we did wander elsewhere – distances are not that great.
As usual, the relatives in Ragusa and Augusta made sure that I was well fed, but I do enjoy getting out and about and seeing the changes and trends that are evident in their food culture. I do that here in Australia as well, or for that matter any place I revisit.
Below are some photos of Sicily and links to existing recipes from the blog … more writing and more recipes soon.
A Nature Reserve near Donna Fugata
A very old church in Modica.
Inside this old church that has been a stable for many years.
Area Archeologica di Cava d’Ispica
The old stone walls, some being repaired or rebuilt.
If you’ve visited my site in the past few weeks, whether you are one of my regular followers or a casual visitor, you’ll have noticed that the blog has been inactive and is now stripped of images. That’s because I have been caught up in the traumatising process of changing hosts and migrating the content. I was told it would be simple. I was told it would be easy. I was told it would take almost no time at all. Instead, it has been complex and difficult and incredibly time consuming. I have slowly been able to add some photos but because I started this blog in 2008, you can imagine that it will be a slow process. Fortunately one of my very good and generous friends in Adelaide has been advising me and assisting me. He has been suffering along side of me.
Tomorrow, I fly out for a trip to the UK and then I visit to Sicily and and right now I’m feeling like this poor statue, looking miserable, standing with his arms bound on the edge of La Fontana Pretoria, in Palermo.
If all is well, I will try to write some posts while I am away on my new-look blog!
My mother always said that meat and fish should never be mixed. Well, she was wrong and may I say that she had never visited Spain.
The following recipe is nothing new, cooks have played around with it over time using the usual Spanish type ingredients that most of us would have in our pantries.
Usually when I buy vongole I have them with long pasta (garlic and parsley, a bit of chilli and white wine), but now and again I like to play around with different flavours and because I had some chorizo in the fridge, the vongole ended up being more Spanish than Italian.
This recipe is in my book second book, Small Fishy Bites .
Paprika is called pimenton in Spain. It has a smoky taste, but if you do not have it use common paprika instead.
Because the vongole release their salty juices when cooked, I generally do not add salt.
I have also used prawns and cooked them in the same way. In the past I have also used chunks of prosciutto rather than chorizo.
If you have bought your prosciutto as a a solid piece and sliced it yourself you will end up with some chunks which are excellent for cooking. I am also able to buy ends (of the bottom part of the leg of prosciutto) from the deli part of the Queen Victoria Market, but any shop that slices prosciutto would have some.
As an accompaniment, just use bread to mop up the juices. I usually end a meal of this sort with a tasty green leaf salad – and I mean tasty, i.e. a selection of different green leaves with a good vinaigrette.
400-500g cooked cannellini
3 chorizo sausage (skins removed and sliced)
2-3 teaspoons smoked pimenton (mixture of sweet and hot to taste)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 glass white wine (or Manzanilla or Fino sherry)
4 spring onions sliced
1-2 cloves garlic chopped finely
2 tablespoons of tomato paste or 1 can (400grams) of peeled tomatoes
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 springs of thyme
Rinse the cockles – they are generally sold clean and unless you have collected them yourself there should be no need for you to rinse and rinse them until they are clear of sand.
Lightly fry the sliced chorizo in very little oil until it starts to brown. Remove it and set aside and use the same saucepan to proceed with the rest of the ingredients.
Add more oil to the pan and sauté the onions on low heat till they soften; add the garlic and pimenton, stir gently for 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, thyme and wine or sherry, cover and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
Add cockles and parsley.
Cover and cook until they have opened, shaking the saucepan occasionally to distribute the heat evenly.
Sicily tourism – trip around the island with the best Sicily travel blogs
“All Things Sicilian and More can be considered one of the best food blogs about Sicily (if not one of the best Italian food blog in general) with appetizing pictures and recipes of the region’s delicacies. The author, Marisa, is an Australian of Italian origin.”
When I received this acknowledgement yesterday from Ville in Italia (Villas in Italy), I felt like I’d been kissed on both cheeks and hugged to the bosom of Sicily. I’m still smiling.
Ville in Italia is an Italian tourist operator based in Florence and it successfully operates in the short term tourist rental sector offering prestigious villas and apartments located all over Italy. It currently has over 500 properties on its books located by the sea, in the country, on the lakes and in the cities of art.
Here is the rest of the message from Ville in Italia:
I am pleased to inform you that All Things Sicilian & More has been included in the personal selection of the most influential and interesting Internet resources regarding Sicilian lifestyle by Ville in Italia.
Ville in Italia has been a company specialized (and leader) in the selection of luxury villas for vacations in Italy for more than 20 years, and, therefore, primarily addresses an international audience, who loves the beauties and the culture of Italy.
This is the motivation that led us to include your blog in the list:
“This can be considered one of the best food blogs about Sicily (if not one of the best Italian food blog in general) with appetizing pictures and recipes of the region’s delicacies. The author, Marisa, is an Australian of Italian origin.”
We really hope that this news may please you and your readers!
I had some saganaki recently at a friend’s place. She did the usual thing of cutting it into large cubes, dipping it in a little flour and pan frying it in hot oil until golden, but she then added a drizzle of Ouzo over the hot cheese, and lit it – (Flambé). Finally she added a squeeze of lemon juice. We ate this with some tomatoes that had been slowly baked on a low temperature.
It was the Ouzo that interested me. I particularly like the taste of aniseed and us a lot of fennel in my cooking. I also use wine quite often in my cooking and sometimes if I wish to accentuate the taste of the fennel I use Ricard or Pernod – both are anise flavoured liqueurs. I have also used Ouzo at times (based on a Greek way of cooking them) and recently I cooked some mussels with Sambuca; they make a great antipasto.
When travelling in Italy to places on the coast in summer, you will often see piattoni (large platters) of mussels presented as a stater to a meal in restaurants; these are a great favourite. With the warmer weather, I have enjoyed placing a large platter of mussels in the centre of the table and having guests help themselves. The mussels I cooked with Sambuca were greatly appreciated.
Whilst I was in Adelaide recently I also ate at Ruby Red Flamingo (John Mc Grath’s review) and enjoyed an Anisetta Meletti, another aniseed flavoured drink from Ascoli Piceno and sold at Mercato (Campbelttown in South Australia). This too would work.
The following recipe is in my second book, Small Fishy Bites. The food stylist and photographer are in the photo above.
2 kl mussels, scrubbed and cleaned of beards
extra virgin olive oil ½ cup
cloves of garlic, 7-8 chopped finely
Italian flat-leaf parsley, 1 small bunch, finely chopped
black pepper, finely ground
Sambuca, ½- ¾ cup (or Ouzu)
lemon juice, 1-2 lemons (grated peel optional)
Sauté the garlic lightly in hot extra virgin olive oil. Use a saucepan that will fit the mussels.
Add the mussels and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the Sambuca, a dash of water, pepper and the parsley. Cover with a lid and cook till the mussels open.
Remove the mussels and place into another warm saucepan with a lid to keep them hot. If you do not mind presenting the mussels warm, place the opened mussels on a platter. (Italians do not seem to bother about keeping food hot). Evaporate the juices until you only have about 1 cup of concentrated liquid. Add lemon juice and pour the juice over the mussels and serve.
Coinciding with the Long Weekend in October on Saturday Beachport had one of their regular Market Days, which are held at various times through the year.
Beachport is a small seaside town in the South East of South Australia close to Robe and Millicent. Anyone familiar with South Australian wine would know about the Limestone Coast and the Coonawarra wine regions. Both are close by. Neighbouring wine regions include Wrattonbully and Mount Benson.
On the foreshore at Beachport there is a large, impressive landmark. It is an historic property called Bompas, formerly Beachport’s original hotel. Bompas has been through many changes, but since April 2012 Sarah and Jeremy are bringing life back into this independent, boutique hotel that serves as a cafe, restaurant and bar with unique accommodation and function facilities.
The reason I am writing about Bompas is that on the October Long Weekend the menu at Bompas featured Pasta with swordfish and mint, one of the recipes in Sicilian Seafood Cooking.The weekend was also the launch of their Asian menu which proved to be very popular.
Sarah and Jeremy now have Trish, an enthusiastic, local and young chef who is very happy to be there and they are equally pleased with her.
In the traditional Sicilian recipe swordfish is the preferred fish, a dense textured fish. I prefer to use sustainable fish and use, mackerel, burramundi, flathead, rockling, yellowtail kingfish or Mahi Mahi. Shell fish also enhances the sweetness of the dish and Sarah, Jeremy and Trish used scallops. They are also looking forward to using local fish on their menu (the fishing season has just started).
Trish did an excellent job of preparing the dish, but what it taught me as the writer is that it may have been useful to include extra hints in the recipe to clarify the process of cooking. Chefs may know how to do it, but what about the person who is not familiar with Italian cooking?
There is so much more advice that the writer of recipes may need to give. For example:
The recipe contains zucchini. What I wish to say is that Italians do overcook vegetables by our standards and in this case it is fairly important that the zucchini are sliced thinly and sautéed till soft – the recipe does not say this. The cooking releases the sweet juices of the zucchini and these are also added to the pasta and contribute to the flavour the dish.
There is also a fair amount of mint, this is added in the cooking process and at the end.
An other thing is that the wine needs to be evaporated so as to caramelize the juices released by the fish when this is sautéed.
And finally, all of the ingredients need to be hot when they are mixed together; this enables the fresh cheese to soften.
For 4-6 people
pasta, 500g, ribbed, tubular like rigatoni or similar
fish, 400g, cut into pieces (4cm)
olive oil, ¾ cup
white wine, ½ cup
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
mint, fresh, 15-20 leaves
salt and pepper to taste
formaggio fresco or fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, 300g,
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cut the cheese into small cubes and set aside.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil; add the fish or shellfish and sauté it till it is lightly coloured.
Add the garlic, wine, about a third of the mint and seasoning to the fish. Cover and cook gently till the fish is ready.
Combine fish, cheese and extra mint leaves (large leaves can be cut into smaller pieces).
Add the sauce to cooked and drained pasta, mix and and serve.
Add slices of 2-3 lightly fried zucchini (cooked separately in some extra virgin olive oil and added at the end). Add any juices left over from the zucchini.
To complement the green colour of the dish I sometimes sprinkle pistachio nuts on top.
I contribute a recipe for Seafoodnews a monthly publication.This is the same recipe and photo of the dish I submitted for the October issue.