Tag Archives: Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

10 MUST-TRY DISHES WHEN YOU ARE IN SICILY

Time and time again I get asked about what I recommend as must-try dishes when in in Sicily.

You may be familiar with the websites for Great British Chefs (leading source of professional chef recipes in the UK) and their second sister website – Great Italian Chefs – dedicated to celebrating the wonderful food culture, traditions and innovations of Italy’s greatest chefs.

As their website informs us:

The Italians themselves are fiercely passionate about their culinary heritage, and with good reason – a large number of the world’s best dishes come from the cities, fields and shores of this deeply cultural, historic country.

AND

Today, Sicily is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s the food that keeps people coming back year after year.

From Great Italian Chefs comes 10 must-try dishes when you’re in Sicily (29 September 2017).

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There are really 11 dishes listed altogether as it is assumed that you already know about Arancini.

The Sicilian specialties are:

  1. Fritella
  2. Caponata
  3. Raw red prawns
  4. Busiate al pesto trapanese
  5. Pasta con le sarde
  6. Pasta alla norma
  7. Cous cous di pesce
  8. Fritto misto
  9. Involtini di pesce spada
  10. Cannoli

AND

  1. Arancini

You will find almost all of the recipes for these dishes in my blog and I have added links and some photos to the recipes in this post below. Some of the photos are from my first book Sicilian Seafood Cooking. I cooked the food, the food stylist was Fiona Rigg, Graeme Gillies was the food photographer.

Although I have no recipes on my blog for Fritto misto, Raw red prawns and Involtini di pesce spada, I have explained each of these these Sicilian specialties and where appropriate I  have links to similar recipes on my blog.

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Fritto misto

Many of you may be familiar with Fritto misto (a mixed dish of mixed fried things: fritto = fried, misto = mixed) and know that it can apply to vegetables, fish or meat. These are cut into manageable size, are dusted in flour, deep fried and served plainly with just cut lemon.

The Fritto misto I knew as a child was what we ordered in restaurants and was the one that originated from Turin (Piedmont) and Milan (Lombardy). It was a mixture of meats and offal and I particularly liked the brains. Fritto misto was originally peasant food, the family slaughtered an animal for eating (usually veal) and the organs such as sweetbreads, kidneys, brains and bits of meat became the Fritto misto –  it was a way to eat the whole animal and it was eaten as close to the slaughter and fresh as possible. Rather than having been dipped in flour the various morsels were crumbed. Seasonal crumbed vegetables were also often included –  mostly eggplant and zucchini in the warm months, cauliflower and artichokes in the cooler season.

If we wanted to eat a fish variety of Fritto misto we would order a Fritto Misto di Mare/or Di Pesce (from the sea or of fish).

Sicily is an island and Sicilians eat a lot of fish and the Fritto misto you eat in Sicily is the fish variety – fresh fish is fundamental. In the Sicilian Fritto misto you will also find Nunnata (neonata (Italian) – neonate),

Sicilians are very fond of Nunnata – the Sicilian term used to call the minute newborn fish of different species including fish, octopi and crabs; each is almost transparent and so soft that they are eaten whole.

For Sicilians Nunnata is a delicacy but these very small fish are an important link in the marine biological food chain, and that wild and indiscriminate fishing endangers the survival of some fish species.

Many Sicilian fishers and vendors justify selling juvenile fish on the grounds that they are ‘bycatch’ (taken while fishing for other species). They argue that the fish are already dead or injured, so there is no point in throwing them back. It seems that for Sicilians, ‘sustainability’ means that all fish are fair game as long as they can catch their quota. However, it is important to acknowledge that the traditional fishing for juveniles is an important activity for small-scale fishers. It only takes place for 60 consecutive days during the winter and therefore has a high socio-economic impact at local level. When in Sicily I refuse to eat this and I only encountered one restaurant in Sciacca that refused to present it to patrons who specifically asked for it.

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Fritto misto di mare or Fritto misto di pesce

For the recipe of mixed fried fish, select a variety of fish: squid and prawns, sardines/anchovies, some fleshy white fish, whitebait too. Carefully clean the prawns leaving the head attached and removing the internal alimentary canal; clean the squid and cut into rings or strips and gut the sardines /anchovies and leave the head attached if you can.

Wipe the fish dry and dip the fish a little at a time into the flour and salt, sieve or shake to remove the excess flour and fry in very hot oil until golden and crispy. I use extra virgin oil for everything. Place on paper to drain and serve hot with lemon wedges and perhaps some more salt.

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Raw red prawns 

Gambero Rosso, (Aristaeomorpha foliacea) is a Sicilian red prawn. These prawns are blood-red  and are generally wild caught in the Mediterranean.

All very fresh seafood can be eaten raw and is loved by Sicilians, usually served with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Most times the seafood is marinaded in these even if it is for a short time – the lemon juice “cooks” the fish.

See posts:

SARDINE, CRUDE E CONDITE (Sardines – raw and marinaded)

PESCE CRUDO, raw fish dishes in Sicily

GREAT BRITISH CHEFS, GREAT ITALIAN CHEFS, Feature articles by Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Sicilian 132 Antipasto Dble Page Spread.tif.p

Involtini di pesce spada

I like to eat sustainable fish and although pesce spada (swordfish) is very popular in Sicily it is overfished.

Swordfish display in LxRm5

There are local variations for the stuffing for Involtini di pesce spada but the most common is made from a combination of dry breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, grated pecorino and sometimes capers.

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I have these recipes that are involtini (rolled fillets and stuffed).

SARDE A BECCAFICO (Sardines stuffed with currants, pine nuts, sugar and nutmeg)

MY FAMILY FEAST SBS ONE, my recipes have been selected

INVOLTINI DI PESCE (Rolled fish: Fish fillets rolled around a herb stuffing)

BRACIOLINI or INVOLTINI DI PESCE – Small fish braciole stuffed with herbs, cooking demonstration at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market

Sicilian 103 Braciulittini Small braciole stuffed w herbs.tif.p

RECIPES ON MY BLOG FOR THE FOLLOWING:

  • Fritella ( Frittedda/ Fritedda in Sicilian)

Frittedda

Jewels of Sicily

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  • Caponata

SICILIAN CAPONATA DI MELANZANE as made in Palermo (Eggplant caponata and Eggplant caponata with chocolate)

CAPONATA SICILIANA (CATANESE – Caponata as made in Catania

CAPONATA of Potatoes (General information and recipe for Caponata di patate)

Sicilian 061 Caponata Catanese.tif.p

  • Busiate al pesto trapanese

Pesto trapanese (from Tapani in Western Sicily) is also called Matarocco. Busiate is the type of pasta traditionally made by coiling a strip of pasta cut diagonally around a thin rod (like a knitting needle).

MATARROCCU, a Sicilian pesto

Sicilian 303 Pesto made w Tomatoes Basil Pinenuts.tif.p copy

  • Pasta con le sarde

PASTA CON LE SARDE (Pasta with sardines, from Palermo, made with fennel, pine nuts and currants)

PASTA CON SARDE – the baked version, Palermo, Sicily

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  • Pasta alla norma

PASTA ALLA NORMA (Pasta with tomatoes, and eggplants)

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  • Arancini

ARANCINI, Rice Balls at Caffé di Lido

ARANCINI (where else… but in Hong Kong!)

GREAT BRITISH CHEFS, GREAT ITALIAN CHEFS, Feature articles by Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Arancini by Emanuel[3]

  • Cous cous di pesce
  • Cannoli

I am saddened and distressed to say that recipes for Cous Cous di pesce and Cannoli have disappeared from my blog and I can only assume that because I have transferred my blog several times to new sites these posts have been lost in the process. I will add these recipes at a later date.

In the meantime here are some photos:

Cannoli close up

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Great Italian Chefs link to 10 must-try dishes when you’re in Sicily (29 September 2017).

SMALL FISHY BITES CELEBRATION EVENT AT THE MOAT, AND MEDIA

My second book, Small Fishy Bites, was released by New Holland on 1 October 2013.

To mark the occasion, on the evening before, friends joined me for a celebratory dinner at the Moat Bar and Cafe in Little Lonsdale Street below the Wheeler Centre.

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The Moat was the perfect place to launch the book, enjoy excellent food and wine – a brilliant match for the occasion.

Thanks to all my friends who enjoy eating and cooking fish and whose contributions have enlarged my repertoire of recipes.

Below, photo shoot in my apartment.

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Food photography by Sue Stubbs, styling by Jodi Wuesterwald.

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Getting a chance to look in….most unusual as I spent the majority of time cooking.

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Printed media

From: The Australian  Michelle Rowe: Food Detective, October 05, 2013 12:00AM

I took the following comment by Michelle Rowe to be a positive rather than a negative and I appreciated being mentioned in her weekly column.

She praises Sicilian Seafood Cooking and for this I am pleased. And there is a hint that in spite of its title, Small Fishy Bites could be OK.

DETECTIVE accepts that with so many cookbooks out these days, it may be difficult to think up a title that has not already been claimed, but she wonders whether anybody could have fixed upon a less-inviting moniker than Small Fishy Bites? She trusts the new book from Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, who also wrote the very good Sicilian Seafood Cooking, holds more promise than its distinctly fishy title.

Equiem, online portal, Melbourne cookbook author gives Friday night fish ‘n chips the boot, Bronwyn Eager, October 2013

Oh Yum Magazine, New Zealand

The Victorian Writer, Food and Wine, Voices: Bring to the boil, Simmer slowly, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, November 2013

Yorke Peninsula, Country Times ,  Yorke Peninsula Seafood in Cookbook, Wendy Burman, 22 October 2013

EVENTS

Cooking Class at Mercato, Adelaide, 22 November,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING – Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

The suspense is killing me!
Friends sent me this postcard from Holland.
I feel like the woman in the picture…waiting…waiting …waiting!
I’ve been expecting my personal copy of my book on Sicilian Seafood Cooking to be delivered from the publishers, New Holland in Sydney.
Sicilian Seafood Cooking is due for release in the first week of November – and for those of you who live in Melbourne it is about the time they run the Melbourne Cup!

The book combines social and culinary history, personal memoir, anecdotes and folklore. It has 383 pages with 120 authentic Sicilian recipes for fish and its many accompaniments: special sauces and vegetable contorni (side dishes). My editor, Mary Trewby, has done a brilliant job ensuring that the book is logically structured and clearly laid out: first courses (in Sicily this means pasta), second-course dishes (mains), sauces, food for feasts and vegetables. Some of the contorni (side plates of vegetables) also double up antipasti.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are some excellent photographs of the food I cooked in my very small kitchen. The credit goes to the New Holland photographer, Graeme Gillies, and the food stylist Fiona Rigg – their team work and attention to detail is obvious when you look at the photos of the food. As well as styling food, Fiona who is based in Melbourne, has a gourmet service called FionaLouise.

The book also features a large selection of photographs of Sicily, especially of fish, fruit and vegetables in the markets of Palermo, Syracuse and Catania. These were mostly taken by my partner, Bob Evans. Some photos have been generously been given to me by friends, Angela (from Adelaide) and Barrie (from Philadelphia).

Like all true Italian cooking, Sicilian cuisine is intensely regional and where it is appropriate I have provided information about the origins of recipes. Recipes come embedded with bits of folklore, quotes from literature and personal reminiscence. There is important information about the sustainability of fish species relevant world wide, and there are a variety of fish that can be substituted in each recipe.And wouldn’t you know it – no sooner had I written that last paragraph, than the door bell rang – there was the courier with a box of books. Time to tear off the tape and open the covers.

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See: