Tag Archives: Polpette di pesce

FISH BALLS with Sicilian flavours

My last post was about marinaded white anchovies – a great crowd pleaser.  This is easy finger food that can be presented on crostini (oven toasted or fried bread) or on small, cup shaped  salad leaves.

Another small fishy bite which never fails to get gobbled up are fish balls poached in a tomato salsa. I took these to a friend’s birthday celebration recently.

The fish is Rockling.   At other times I have made them with other Australian wild caught fish for example Snapper and Flathead,  Blue-eye and Mahi Mahi.

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Here are some photos of the ones I made recently.

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Cut the fish into chunks and mince it in a food processor.

You can see the ingredients I use to make these fish balls, mainly currants, pine nuts, parsley and fresh bread crumbs . There is also some garlic and grated lemon rind, cinnamon….. and on this occasion I added nutmeg too.

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These ingredients are common in Sicilian cuisine but also in Middle Eastern food. This is not surprising when you look at Sicily’s legacy.

For a variation use other Mediterranean flavours: preserved lemon peel instead of grated lemon, fresh coriander instead of parsley, omit the cheese, add cumin.

Combine the mixture and add some grated Pecorino  and salt and pepper to taste.

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Eggs will bind the mixture.

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The mixture should be quite firm and hold together. You may need to add more eggs – the number of  eggs you will need  will vary because it will depend on the texture of the fish and the bread.  I always use 2-3 day old sourdough bread.

On this occasion I added 2 extra eggs,(4 small eggs altogether)  however I used 1 k of fish.

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In the meantime make a tomato salsa.  I added a stick of cinnamon.

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Shape the mixture into small balls and poach them gently in the salsa.

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This  is the link to the recipe  that is also in my second book, Small Fishy Bites.

FISH BALLS IN SALSA – POLPETTE DI PESCE (PURPETTI in Sicilian)

I presented the fish balls in Chinese soup spoons – easy to put into one’s mouth. You can see that there were only very few fish balls left over on the festive table. There are also only five anchovies in witlof leaves left over.

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Of course  these fish balls are not just limited to party food. They make a great antipasto or main course.

Spaghetti and fish balls? Why not?

FISH BALLS IN SALSA – POLPETTE DI PESCE (PURPETTI in Sicilian)

Purpettipolpette in Italianare the words for meatballs, but these purpetti are made with fish
Polpette di sarde are made with sardines and are very popular in Sicily, however other types of fish can be used. In my version of fish balls I have used a combination of snapper and flathead (sustainable in Victoria), but any firm skinless, non-oily fish is OK. You will need a meat grinder or a food processor to mince the fish.
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Polpette made with fish can be made with as many combinations of flavours and particularly common around Catania is the combination of grated pecorino, garlic and parsley – the same as for making meat balls. I like to add grated lemon zest and cinnamon as well. The polpette can be fried and served plain with a squeeze of lemon or poached in a tomato salsa as I have done on this occasion.

I presented them to friends simply served with bread and accompanied with some roast peppers and a green leaf mixed salad with radishes – perfect for a light lunch.

This recipe is in my second book, Small Fishy Bites.

INGREDIENTS

fish, 500g, see above
grated pecorino cheese, ½ cup
currants, ½ cup
pine nuts, ½ cup
parsley or fresh mint, ½ cup cut finely
garlic, 2 cloves, chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste
cinnamon powder and lemon zest, ½ teaspoon of each
egg, 1 
breadcrumbs,1 cup, made from fresh bread

PROCESSES

Cut the fish into chunks and mince using a meat grinder or food processor – I do not like it to be too fine.
Combine all of the ingredients – the mixture should be quite firm and hold their shape. Shape into small balls.
For the tomato sauce:
In a saucepan large enough to hold the polpette, heat ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, add a clove of garlic, a little salt and 500g of chopped and peeled red tomatoes (canned or passata).
Heat the salsa to boiling then lower the heat and reduce to thicken slightly for about 5 minutes. Bring to boiling again.
Add the polpette to the tomato sauce, cover and braise for 8–12 minutes. Leave to rest in the sauce for at least 5 minutes – this will help them to set.
Serve hot.