Tag Archives: Zogghiu


As you can see this poached whole Atlantic Salmon looks very impressive and it tasted fabulous.


The method of slowly poaching a whole fish in a fish kettle is easy. The poaching liquid in this case was salted water, whole parsley – leaves and stalks, black peppercorns, lemons and onions cut into  thick slices.

The poaching liquid (bouillon) can be a combination of  salted water and white wine and contain some aromatics of your choice to flavour the stock. Common are whole black peppercorns, fresh fennel, or fennel seeds, dill stalks or seeds, carrots, celery, fresh bay leaves, thyme, but it is important not to use too many ingredients to flavour the liquid because the strength of cooking the fish in this way is to taste the natural taste of the fish.

The greatest advantage in using a fish kettle is that it contains a perforated insert on which the fish sits, enabling it to be easily lowered into and raised from the poaching liquid. Placing some of the ingredients (if not all) to flavour the fish underneath the perforated insert can be advantageous and keep the bottom side of the fish from being over flavoured. Some of the flavourings can also be placed in the centre of the fish.

I do not have a photo of the fish kettle that was used to poach the Atlantic Salmon (it belongs to my friend), but in this photo below is of my fish kettle. It is much smaller but it can easily hold two fish. The 1k flathead is sitting on the perforated insert.


Unfortunately giving precise information is not possible because it depends on the size  and species of the fish and how cooked you like it. We are talking about poaching the fish on low heat. Don’t bring your pot to a boil, or to simmer. It needs to reach the required temperature slowly.

If you have thermometer the fish will need to be poached at a temperature of 80-85 °C.

If you do not have a thermometer observe how small bubbles will gently rise and break on the surface. This is your indication that it has reached the required temperature.  . 


Place aromatics into the fish kettle, place the fish on the perforated insert, add the liquid to cover the fish (it must be covered).  Cover with a lid and wait till the temperature reaches of 80-85C or till the small bubbles rise to the surface. Leave it for about 5 minutes.

This large fish was about 4k and it took about 30 mins for the bubbles to rise to the surface or to reach the poaching temperature. 

Switch off the heat and allow the fish to stand in the water until it is at room temperature.

Test the fish by inserting a skewer or fork into the thickest part of the fish – undercooked fish resists flaking and is translucent, cooked fish is opaque and flakes.

Remove it from the poaching liquid and the fish will be ready to eat. It is best eaten at room temperature.

A herb salad or a simple dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs is perfect. Any of the following soft herbs: parsley, dill, tarragon, chervil, fennel.

If you need to refrigerate the fish or have fish left over and want to serve it the next day it could be served with a stronger sauce.

Alternative dressings:

SALAMURRIGGHIU – SALMORIGLIO (Dressing made with oil, lemon and oregano)

ZOGGHIU (Sicilian pesto/dressing made with garlic, parsley and mint)

PESCE IN BIANCO (Plain fish). MAIONESE (Mayonnaise)




SARDINES, grilled or barbecued with Sicilian dressings

Many people do not like the taste of sardines, they find them too fishy. Being an oily fish they are strong flavoured, and like other oily fish (for example salmon and mackerel) they are rich in omega-3s – this could provide enough incentive to begin eating them and learning to enjoy them. Because of their oil content the taste becomes even fisher if they are left so they need to be eaten fresh. When they are very fresh I like to eat them raw marinaded in lemon juice and olive oil.


Sardines are a resilient species and with favourable conditions they reproduce successfully and in large numbers; they are therefore sustainable.

One of the ways that I really enjoy to eat oily fish is by grilling on a griddle or char-grilling in a BBQ. Presented with a simple dressing that contains lemon juice (for example the Sicilian Salmoriglio (salt, oregano, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil) they taste less fishy.

I also like to present them with Zogghiu (a Sicilian pesto-type accompaniment strongly flavoured with mint). I say ‘pesto-type’ because I  mostly use a food processor and do not pound the ingredients with a mortar and pestle (pesto = from pestare = to pound using a mortar and pestle) .


Sardines are small fish with soft flesh and therefore require gentle handling and short cooking times. I only turn them once when they are being cooked, whether I am barabecuing, grilling or pan-frying. If I am baking them (as in Beccafico- stuffed with Sicilan/ Arab flavours ) or cooking them in liquid I do not turn them at all.

Sardinia – sardines…. is there a connection? Maybe… sardines were once very plentiful around the island of Sardinia and it is thought that their name is likely  to have originated from ancient times.

Cooking on a BBQ is simple. This time I cooked them on a griddle lined with foil.


To clean sardines:

Remove the scales by scraping with your fingers against the grain (towards the head) and back again – the flesh is too delicate to use a knife.

Use pointy scissors or a sharp pointy knife to cut the fish open along the belly from tail to head.

Gently  push the innards out of the body.

Gently rinse the fish inside and out under the tap with gentle- running water, being careful not to break the skin



sardines, left whole, scaled and gutted

a sprinkling of salt and some extra virgin olive oil and to brush over the sardines


Wash the sardines and pat dry – be gentle.

Sprinkle with a little salt, brush them with a little olive oil and grill quickly over high heat in a griddle plate.

Cook them 3–4 minutes on either side – turn only once very carefully. The skin will be slightly charred- this will also help to mask the oily taste.


I presented them with this salad: