Culturally In Australia Easter is no big deal, however in Italy it is tied to religious observances and fish is traditionally eaten on Good Friday by Italian Catholics even if they are not practising Catholics.
I plan to cook something simple – a pasta dish with Mussels. Cozze in Italian, cuzzili in Sicilian.
This is not a complicated dish. It is made with fresh mussels and a little fresh tomato, but not so much to mask the taste of the other ingredients.
Local mussels are prolific in Victoria and I regularly buy them at the Queen Victoria Market; these are generally farmed in Port Phillip Bay and recently from Mount Martha; when I get the chance, I like to go to Portarlington, where they are sold straight off the boats. Mussels are sustainable.
Red, ripe tomatoes are fabulous at this time of year, but tinned tomatoes are OK too. I even used some ripe, yellow, heirloom tomatoes in this sauce!
Spaghettini (thin spaghetti) are used for this dish – the thin strands result in a greater surface area and allow greater absorption of the sauce.
The sauce is prepared quickly while the pasta is cooking. The same ingredients and method of cooking this dish can also be used with other fish – try squid.
Do not be horrified and think me a phony for using grated cheese with fish! The rest of Italy may not, but Sicilians do it. Using cheese is not necessary, especially if you like to savor the fresh taste of the tomatoes.
mussels, 2 kg fresh, live mussels
red tomatoes, fresh, 500 g, chopped and peeled
garlic, 3 chopped…to taste
parsley, 1 cup finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil, ½ – ¾ cup
salt and pepper
basil, fresh, some stalks and leaves in the sauce and some leaves to decorate and provide a last-minute aroma
grated pecorino, (optional), to taste
Clean the mussels by rubbing them against each other in cold water (or use a plastic scourer). Pull the beards sharply towards the pointy end of the shell.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pan.
Add the mussels.
Cover and cook over a brisk flame, shaking the pan every now and then, until the mussels have opened. Turn off the flame and let them cool slightly, then remove and discard the shells of about ¾ of them. Use the whole mussels for decoration.
If you have given the mussels sufficient time to open and some have remained closed, there is no need to discard them. They are very much alive, place them back on heat and they will eventually open.
Save the juice from the mussels in a separate vessel.
Add the onion to a new pan, sauté till golden.
Add the chopped tomatoes and some basil stalks with leaves attached (these can be removed at time of serving).
Simmer the sauce for about 8-10 minutes, just to blend the flavours and to evaporate some of the tomato juice. Place the tomato sauce aside.
Cook the spaghettini.
Add some extra virgin olive oil and garlic to a new pan (or wipe down the same pan that you have used to cook the sauce). Soften the garlic and add the parsley.
Add the mussel meat to the pan and toss the ingredients around for a few minutes before adding the tomato sauce and as much of the mussel juice as you think you will need for the sauce. Remove the cooked basil (it has done its job).
Add the mussels in their shells (gently) to warm through.
Drain the pasta. Add it to the pan with the rest of the ingredients toss them around till they are well coated. Be gentle with the cooked mussels in their shells as you want to keep the mussel meat in the shell.
Add fresh basil leaves.
Present with grated cheese for those who wish.
Pasta with cozze is eaten all over Italy but in Northern Italy parsley and garlic are the preferred flavourings and no tomatoes.
Fran asked me about how Sicilians traditionally celebrate Christmas and to suggest different menus featuring seafood and accompaniments that Australians could prepare as alternatives to the traditional turkey, chicken and ham, which are being replaced on our Christmas dinner plates.
When I am planning a Christmas lunch I consider:
Who am I feeding will they like this dish? How many? How much time do I want to spend cooking/ Hot day or cooler? What can I prepare before hand? What fish looks good at the market? Which is my focus ‘wow factor’/emphasis? (is it to be (antipasto) entrée, pasta (first course) or (second course) main?
Or would I prefer to present a selection of small courses?
In Sicilian Seafood Cooking there are many recipes that in Sicily are intended for swordfish and tuna. Although I have retained the name of the recipe I have also selected fish that are sustainable as preferable choices to endangered species.
Sicilians have simple starters – a plate of olives, some nuts and this is because they like to save their appetites for what is coming and therefore I have selected a light fish starter. They also enjoy eating pasta and this is why I have given several alternatives for the first course. For the first course there is also a rice alternative. By the time you get to the second course you may need a big rest, but I have provided two recipes.
Vegetables have not been included in this menu but they are and as well as important in Sicilian cuisine and there are very many interesting recipes in Sicilian Seafood Cooking and of course beautiful photos, not only of the recipes but as Fran said, also of Sicily.
Starter / antipasto: TONNO CUNZATO
Raw Marinated Tuna
The fish needs to be fresh and of excellent quality and sliced thinly. Keep it in the fridge while it is in the marinade. The recipes for marinating tuna suggest using a mixture of 7 parts vinegar to 3 parts lemon juice. I prefer to use just lemon juice or 9 parts lemon juice to 1 part vinegar. You may wish to experiment.
This dish is usually served as an antipasto.
The recipe is intended for bluefin tuna which is not sustainable. Any skinless fillet cut thinly can be marinated the same way.
500g tuna or other thinly cut, skinless fish
Juice of 4 lemons
¼ – ½ cup white wine vinegar
Dried oregano to taste
2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery (pale green stalks and leaves from heart) finely chopped
½ cup capers
¼ cup finely cut parsley
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Marinate the fish in the lemon juice and vinegar, making sure that the fish is covered with the marinade. Add oregano and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the dressing, mix together the spring onions, celery, capers, parsley, olive oil and seasoning. When ready to serve, remove the fish from the marinade and pour the dressing on top.
First Course: RAVIOLI DI RICOTTA CU NIURU DI SICCI
Ricotta Ravioli With Black Ink Sauce
2 ½ cups of ricotta
Salt to taste
Extras: sugar, citrus peel or finely cut marjoram
1 quantity pasta (recipe p45)
Black ink sauce:
600g squid or cuttlefish plus 2-3 ink sacs
1 medium onion &/or 2 cloves garlic
½ cup olive oil
100g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large tblsp tomato paste
1 cup finely cut parsley
1 cup white wine
Chilli flakes or freshly ground pepper
Clean the squid or cuttlefish carefully and extract the ink sac. Cut into 1cm rings and set aside. The tentacles can also be used.
For the sauce, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil, add the tomatoes and tomato paste, parsley, white wine and sale. Bring to the boil and reduce until the salsa is thick.
Cook the pasta.
Add the ink and chilli flakes to the sauce and mix well. Add the squid rings and cook over a medium-high heat until the squid is cooked to your liking.
Drain the ricotta
Place it in the colander lined with cheesecloth and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Mix the ricotta with a little salt and any of the extra flavourings.
Make the ravioli
The most authentic and quickest way to cut the ravioli is by hand. There is no prescribed size- can be round or square or half-moon shaped.
To make individual ravioli, cut pasta into circles or squares. Place heaped teaspoons of stuffing in the centre of each, continuing until all the stuffing is used. For half-moon shapes fold the pasta over the filling. For others lay another circle or square over the top then moisten edges with a little water and press together carefully to seal properly.
Set the finished ravioli on a lightly floured cloth. They can rest in a cool place for up to two hours.
Cook the ravioli as you would any pasta. Lower them into water a few at a time and scoop each out when it floats to the surface.
Dress them carefully with the black ink sauce so as not to break them. Serve as is or with a scoop of ricotta or some grate pecorino.
First course: RISO CON GLI ANGELI
Rice with angels
3 cups arborio, carnaroli or vialone rice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup finely cut parsley
¾–1 cup extra virgin olive oil
200g (7oz) prawns, shelled
and de-veined, cut into pieces; some left whole
200g (7oz) squid (small with tentacles), cut into slices
100g (3½oz) of one or a
mixture of: crabs, lobster, Moreton bay bugs, scallops (optional)
salt and red chilli flakes to taste
Clean the cockles and mussels (see pages 84 and 87). Steam in a covered frying pan coated with a little oil. Once opened, shell them, but reserve some mussels in their shells. Cut up the flesh and save the juice.
While you are preparing the seafood, cook the rice (add the rice to plenty of rapidly boiling, salted water). Drain and place in serving bowl.
In a wide pan, sauté the garlic and parsley in extra virgin olive oil. Add prawns, squid (and any other seafood) and season. Stir for a few minutes, then add the clam juice. Toss for a few minutes without reducing the liquid.
Add mussels and cockles (shelled and unshelled) and heat through.
Mix the seafood with the rice. Arrange some mussels in their shells on top to look like angels with open wings. Serve with grated cheese.
First course: SPAGHETTI CON L ’ARAGOSTA
Spaghetti with crayfish
The terms lobster and crayfish are often used interchangeably, but the marine species are lobsters and the freshwater species are crayfish. There are many types of lobsters known by a variety of local names.
Lobsters (aragoste) are popular around Trapani, although they are expensive. When making pasta with aragosta, I often buy spiders (the legs) – they can be quite meaty and very suitable for a pasta dish that requires cooked lobster. When buying lobster, select a heavy specimen with a good strong shell. They molt several times in their life cycle and, if they are pale with a thin shell, they are not likely to have much flesh. As for size, anything less than 1.5 kg (3lb 5oz) is not worth buying – a lobster under that size doesn’t have enough meat, especially from the spiders.
There is no comparison between the taste of a freshly cooked lobster and one purchased already cooked.Although this recipe is especially suited for lobsters, other crustaceans can be used.
This dish requires cooked lobster and it is added last. The other ingredient sare raw and pounded in a mortar and pestle (or pulsed in a food processor). The raw ingredients can also be finely chopped and mixed together. Use fresh ripe tomatoes.
This pasta dish is fantastic for the hot weather and it could be part of a celebratory lunch (such as Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere).
Lobster, no less than 50g (1¾oz) of meat per person
Juice of 3 lemons, plus grated zest of 1 lemon
about ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
600g (1lb 5oz) ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and drained, chopped
1 small bunch of basil
½ cup finely cut parsley
½ cup capers; if salted soaked and thoroughly rinsed
500g (17½oz) spaghetti or spaghettini
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Remove the flesh from the lobster, tear or cut into small portions and place it in a bowl with the juice of 1 lemon and some of the oil.
Use a mortar and pestle to combine the rest of the ingredients. Begin with
the garlic, then add the tomatoes, seasoning, and some more oil. Then stir in
the basil, parsley capers and, lastly, the zest of 1 lemon – stir these into the
pesto. Add some of the lemon juice, taste the pesto and add more if necessary
(you may not need all of the lemon juice).
Cook and drain the spaghetti. Arrange in a serving bowl, add the pesto
and lobster and mix it gently. I like to add more grated lemon zest on top.
Second Course: CALAMARETTI RIPIENI CON MARSALA E MANDORLE
Stuffed calamari with fresh cheese, almonds and nutmeg braised in marsala
6 medium squid (or 12 small squid)
1 cup breadcrumbs, made from good-quality day-old bread, toasted in a little oil
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely cut
¼–½ teaspoon nutmeg
150g (5oz) fresh cheese (tuma, pecorino fresco, mozzarella, fior di latte or bocconcini), cut into small cubes
1 cup dry marsala
½ cup almonds, blanched and chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Clean the squid: pull off the head and the inside of the squid and discard. Cut
off tentacles and save them for another time.
Mix the remaining ingredients except the oil together; check the seasoning.
Stuff the squid and secure each end with a toothpick.
Sauté each squid in olive oil – when the juice escapes it caramelises – turning once only during cooking. Alternatively, cover with foil and bake in a 200°C (400°F) oven for about 10 minutes. The squid will produce its own juice. To caramelise, remove foil and bake the squid for an extra 10 minutes.
Add chopped pistachio rather than almonds.
Second course: PESCE INFORNATO CON PATATE
Baked fish with potatoes, vinegar and anchovies
1–1.5kg (2lb 4oz–3lb 5oz) whole fish, or large pieces
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 onions, finely chopped a small bunch parsley, finely chopped
250g (9oz) potatoes, thinly sliced
3–6 anchovies, finely chopped (see above)
juice of 2 lemons, plus grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Any whole fish or large fillets of medium to firm fish, preferably with the skin
on. The fish is cooked whole and carved like meat at the table.
If using whole fish or fillets with skin, make a series of slashes in the skin. Mix
the oil with the vinegar, onions and parsley. Add seasoning and marinate the
fish for about an hour, turning frequently.
Place the fish in an ovenproof dish, spoon half of the marinade over it and bake for 10 minutes in a 200°C (400°F) oven. Arrange the sliced potatoes around the fish. Sprinkle the potatoes and the fish with more marinade, the anchovies, lemon juice and grated zest. Bake for another 20–35 minutes, depending on the type of fish. Serve hot.
Place rosemary and bay leaves underneath the fish in the baking pan.
In this recipe I am using Red Mullet, also known as Goatfish; they are called Trigle in Italian. In Australia this little fish is very underrated, but travel to any country around the Mediterranean and southern Europe and you will find that it is highly esteemed.
Orecchiette, (pasta shaped like little ears) are popular in Puglia, a region in southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east and the Ionian Sea to the southeast.
Replace the Red Mullet with any other sweet tasting white fish, such as whiting or try crabmeat – both are sustainable. Pink Ling, Red Snapper and Red emperor are also suitable for this dish and all have an attractive pink skin; they are all fished in Australia and/or New Zealand and both countries aim to manage for a sustainable and productive stock (overfishing has occurred in the past and stocks in certain locations still require rebuilding – in Think Twice Category by The Australian Marine Conservation Society).
I always select less than the standard recommended 100g of pasta per person, especially if it is not for a main course. The following amount will feed 5-6 people in my household.
300g fish: red mullet or similar cut into bite size pieces
300g broccoli or cauliflower or broccolini ( separated or cut into small pieces)
¾ cup of olive oil,
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 cup of chopped parsley
4 chopped tomatoes
1-2 chillies, remove the seeds if you do not want the dish to be hot
salt to taste
Sauté the garlic and chillies in about ½ cup of oil, add the broccoli and toss them around in the pan until they are well coated. Add the chopped anchovies and cook until softened. You may prefer to leave the broccoli with a little crunch – if not – add a splash of water and cook for longer.
Remove the contents from the pan and set aside.
Pan-fry the fish lightly in the same pan with the rest of the oil.
Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes have softened.
Mix the two cooked components and reheat.
Dress the cooked pasta with the above sauce and serve.
There is a sense of celebration associated with eating fish and this recipe for rolled fish could be a good starter to a meal – great for any of these festive occasions.
It is Christmas eve and I intend making these as a starter tonight. It will be a menu of all fish in keeping with the Italian tradition of abstaining from meat; this is a left over practice from days when Catholics did not eat meat during certain days in Advent, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus.
These little morsels are fish fillets rolled around a light stuffing– only herbs, lemon peel and garlic are used. Fillets of small fish (with skin on) are suitable: anything from mild-flavoured whiting, stronger tasting flathead to even stronger oilier fish such as mullet or sardines. They can be pan-fried in a non stick frypan with a little butter or extra virgin olive oil and then eaten with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You may also wish to deglaze the pan with a little white wine or use orange juice (juice of 2 oranges), these will provide a ready-made sauce. For the orange juice option you could use fresh basil as the herb for the stuffing.
I have made these little rolls many times. Sometimes I have deglazed the pan with Marsala (dry), or white wine. I have also used tarragon as my herb and used vermouth. An alternative stuffing can be made using some breadcrumbs (made from 1 day old, sour dough bread), toast them in a frypan with a little extra virgin olive oil. To these add a little minced garlic, chopped parsley, grated lemon peel, a sprinkling of sugar and a little nutmeg. Pine nuts and currants can also be added to this stuffing.
Fish fillets rolled around a herb stuffing is one of the recipes is in my book, Small Fishy Bites.
INGREDIENTS AND PROCESSES
6 fish fillets from small fish, I used King George whiting
fresh herbs for stuffing (rosemary, parsley, oregano or marjoram)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or butter or a mixture of both
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh bay leaves
grated peel of 1 orange or lemon
Flatten each fillet; if using large fillets, cut into smaller strips. Sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper.
Chop the herbs finely and leave a small sprig to insert at one end of the fish rolls (for decoration).
Mix the herbs, garlic and peel with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or soft butter- this is less Sicilian). Place a little of the stuffing at one end of each fillet and roll up. Secure each roll with a toothpick and place a sprig of herbs at one end.
Sauté fish rolls in remaining extra virgin olive oil and /or the butter.
Add a little seasoning and bay leaves and continue to cook the fish until it is ready.
I bought this fish at the Queen Victoria Market. What motivated me to buy it was the sustainable label. My fish vendor does not usually label his fish as sustainable and I was quite impressed. In fact I shook his hand.
I chose to ignore the fact that it comes from New Zealand – flown in daily the vendor said. Unfortunately it is not exactly local. It was $32.00 per kilo. It weighed one kilo.
He always asks me if I want whole fish filleted. I always say no.
‘Best steamed’ he said. So I chose to bake it in baking paper – in cartoccio – it keeps in the moisture.
I wanted to taste the fish not drown it in flavours so I chose simple flavours: caper berries, slivers of garlic and some parsley and fresh rosemary and bay leaves to stuff the cavity of the fish.
You will notice that the fish is greenish-blue to blue-black in colouring. It is a white fish with medium texture and the flesh remained very moist.The Blue Cod are caught sustainably because potting is used – The pots are baited and once the fish is inside they are trapped. Each pot is set at a size that allows younger undersized fish to escape and any by-catch is released unharmed.
If I want sustainable fish I have to be prepared to pay for it and you can see why the price is high.
Either use 2 sheets of baking paper or use one sheet of baking paper on top of some metal foil. The two layers will help prevent the paper from breaking when you put it in a serving dish.
1 fish, 1k – I used Chatman Islands Blue Cod
fresh rosemary and bay leaves to insert in the stuffing
3 large garlic cloves, cut into slivers
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
caper berries, about 10
½ cup of chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 220C
Make sure the cavity of the fish is very well cleaned and stuff it with the rosemary and bay.
Place 2 large sheets of baking paper on a baking tray, sprinkle it with salt, pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle a little parsley some garlic slivers and some capers on the paper and place the fish on top.
Repeat what you did on the bottom of the fish on top of the fish.
Wrap the fish completely in the paper and place it in a baking pan, then bake in the oven for 25- 30 minutes. (I prefer my fish not to be overcooked). Remove the pan from oven and leave the fish wrapped up in the paper for an extra 10 minutes.
Take it out of the paper and keep the juices as the sauce. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top and some more freshly ground black pepper – I cannot help being Italian!
Finally, Albacore tuna is available again in one stall at the Queen Victoria market. This tuna is sustainable, it is a lean fish and it can be quite dry if served without a sauce.
You can buy albacore tuna cut as a fillet or as slices from the centre of the fish – this cut will include the spinal bones and if you are braising the fish the bones will contribute to the taste. In Sicily this cut of tuna is called a ruota (wheel); the bones can then be easily removed at the time of serving. The wheel of tuna will have the skin still on make sure that the scales have been removed and make splits into the skin to stop it curling. Or you can remove the skin altogether.
Tuna and peas is a very common combination for Italians. I remember so vividly my maternal grandmother cooking wheels of tuna in very crowded saucepans, bubbling away on her stove in Catania, Sicily. Sometimes she also added tomatoes to the braise and studded the tuna with cloves of garlic.
Peas are sweet, hence the cinnamon stick. Sometimes I add nutmeg instead (for the same reason). Both the cinnamon and the nutmeg are optional; if using nutmeg, add it at the final stages of cooking.
Once cooked, you can also remove the centre bone, break up the tuna and serve it as a pasta sauce.
For 4 people
1 slice of albacore tuna (about 700g)
400g of shelled peas
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil,
salt and pepper
2-3 fresh bay leaves
1tbs tomato paste for colour (optional)
1 cup of white dry wine
1-2 cinnamon sticks or some grated nutmeg (optional)
Sauté the chopped onion lightly in the oil – use low heat.
Add the tuna and seal on both sides.
Add seasoning, bay leaves, wine and cinnamon stick.
Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the peas 10 minutes into the cooking and If adding nutmeg add it at this time. Do not let the braise get dry and add a little more liquid (water and or wine) if necessary.
If using it as a pasta sauce:
Use 400 g pasta, short shapes.
Leave the fish in the pan while you cook the pasta.
Remove the central bones from the tuna (if there are any) and return them to the pan.
Dress the pasta and serve.
Unlike the rest of Italy, Sicilians include grated cheese with fish.
Two of my friends live on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, located about 17.7 km from Auckland. They both have kayaks and when time and weather permits one or two of them go fishing and it seems that every time they do, they catch fish.
They catch mainly snapper off Oretangi Beach where they live, but if they go to some of the other bays they catch John Dory, Kingfish and Hapuka. The fish in the three photos were caught on two separate occasions and when I stayed with them we enjoyed eating fresh fish very much .
My friend boned one of the fish, a Kawhai, a New Zealand fish which needs to be bled. He smoked it using a simple smoker and manuka wood smoking chips.
We cooked some of the snapper in colourful, enamelled, cast-iron mini “casseroles” or “dutch ovens” using simple Sicilian flavours: tomatoes, capers, garlic, olives and some Sicilian common herbs.. They are brought to the table straight from the oven so do tell your guests to be ultra careful when they eat from them. Also protect your table with mats.
Of course the ingredients can go into one large casserole, covered and baked for 25-30 minutes.
For 4 people
4 pieces of fish (1 serve per person)
4 peeled red tomatoes (or tinned)
1 tbs capers
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ cup of fresh herbs, use 1 or more: parsley, basil, oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 green olives or black olives, stoned
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the fish lightly.
Add a little salt. Remove the fish and set aside.
Add the other ingredients and sauté, until the juice of the tomatoes is
Spoon some of the tomato mixture into each mini-casserole. Place 1 piece of
fish in each and top with more tomato.
Either cover with a lid or if using a different type of ovenproof small baking dishes cover with metal foil and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your fish.
I love sardines. Being a small fish they cook quickly and are still considered by some as being exotic.
Here are two different recipes and both use wine. The same ingredients are in both recipes but in one recipe the sardines are sautéed and in the other they are baked. I prefer to use cleaned whole sardines when I bake them.
In both recipes whole fish or fillets can be used. The sardines as fillets (no bones) can be eaten on fresh or toasted bread and makes a good starter. I like to top them with a little harissa when I do this (mixing of cultures here).
500 g of fresh sardines (whole or fillets), ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of fresh parsley and ½ tsp of dry oregano, 1-2 cloves of garlic chopped finely, salt and pepper to taste, juice of ½ lemon, ¼ cup white wine.
Instead of using white wine try cooking them with red wine and use red wine vinegar. It alters the taste and colour.
Sauté sardines in hot extra virgin olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, garlic and the herbs. Turn once only. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add lemon and wine and de-glaze the pan. Evaporate a little to form a sauce. Return the sardines to the pan to coat them in the sauce and to reheat.
INGREDIENTS (as above)
I prefer to use whole sardines for the baked version of this recipe. Fillets can also be cooked the same way but will cook more quickly.
Bake whole sardines 200°C for 25-30. Bake fillets for 20mins.
Arrange the sardines in a round baking tin that you have coated with the oil. These look very attractive if arranged in a pattern with their heads in the centre and tails radiating out to the edges (like spokes).
Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, wine and vinegar, garlic and the herbs.
Bake and eat when ready.
A must when in New Zealand is to eat the green-lipped mussels. They are so much larger and meatier than the varieties of black mussels common in Australia and Europe.
I stayed with friends on Waiheke Island located in the Hauraki Gulf. It is about 17.7 km from Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand. I bought the mussels from the local fish shop and cooked them with extra virgin olive oil, white wine, parsley and quite a bit of garlic (Cozze in Brodetto).
The next time I cooked green lipped mussels was a few days later when I visited other friends in Queenstown in the South Island. I bought the mussels in another great fish shop in Dunedin and both towns are in the South Island of New Zealand. I cooked these with tomatoes and cannellini beans and these are the photos and the recipe. On this occasion I used tinned beans.
Black mussels can also be used in this recipe.
There were 4 of us.
mussels, 2.5 k
dry white wine ½ cup
parsley, ½ cup chopped
cannellini beans, I used 2 x 400g tins, cooked and drained
tomato salsa: 800g of tinned red tomatoes, oregano (dried) or fresh basil leaves, salt, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, 4 cloves chopped finely
Place the tomato, basil or oregano, extra virgin olive oil and liquid from the mussels in a saucepan and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes until reduced to about 2 cups.
Clean and de-beard mussels.
Place mussels in a large, wide saucepan, add wine and parsley, cover and place over high heat to steam open.
Remove the open mussels from the cooking liquid as you go (I placed mine in a large serving bowl). Leave the unopened ones in the liquid until they all open.
Evaporate the cooking liquid until you only have about 1 cup of concentrated liquid. This will be salty and this is why no salt has been used elsewhere.
Add the cannellini to the salsa and heat.
Combine all of the ingredients together and serve.
Reduction of liquid
You can see that I like mussels quite a bit. For other mussel recipes see:
Wendy is a friend who lives in Ardrossan, a small town on the east coast of the Yorke Peninsula (about 150 km from Adelaide). She and her husband have a boat and they often go fishing. I too have gone fishing on their boat and watched them catch fish, mainly King George Whiting, Squid and Garfish.
To make me jealous and as a subtle way to suggest I should go to visit them, she sent me a photograph of a large Australian Salmon she caught recently; she then sent me more photos of how she cooked it.
Australian Salmon belongs to the perch family (surprisingly it is not a salmon). As you can see from the photo Wendy has filleted the fish. Some people find this fish very fishy, but it lends itself to recipes with strong accompanying flavours.
Wendy chose a recipe from my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking. The recipe is Fish alla ghiotta from Messina and is cooked with tomatoes, green olives, capers, pine nuts and currants (AGGHIOTTA DI PISCI A MISSINISA – PESCE ALLA GHIOTTA ALLA MESSINESE).
There are many variations of this dish and this one contains Sicilian flavours in excess – it is sure to satisfy the gluttons.
Sicilians use piscispata (Sicilian for swordfish; pescespada is the Italian), but any cutlets of firm, large fish cut into thick slices or thick fillets are suitable. I like to buy sustainable seafood and have used: Flathead, Trevally, Kingfish, Snapper, Mackerel and Barramundi. Obviously Australian Salmon can now be added to this list but in Victoria I have not seen much of this fish.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 x 200g (7oz.) fish steaks or
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
¾ cup salted capers, soaked and washed
1 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup currants, soaked in a little warm water for about 15 minutes
½ cup pine nuts
2 – 3 bay leaves
500g (17oz.) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (tinned are OK)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a wide pan, large enough to accommodate the fish in one layer. Shallow-fry the fish for a couple of minutes on both sides over medium-high heat to seal. Remove from the pan and set aside.
For la ghiotta, add the celery and onion to the same oil, and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir frequently. Reduce heat to medium, then add the capers, olives, garlic, currants, pine nuts and bay leaves and stir well. Add tomatoes, season, stir, and cook for about ten minutes until some of the juice from the tomatoes has reduced.
Arrange the fish in the sauce in one layer and spoon some of the sauce over it. Cover, and cook on moderate heat until the fish is done.
Thank you Wendy for all of these wonderful photos and I am so glad that you enjoyed it.