This recipe is only wonderful if it’s really fresh. You can get powdered ink but it is not as tasty. Seeing that they are in season it’s a good time to try it. I like to add tomato to give the sauce more body but these can be omitted to get a more jet black colour.
The anatomy of the cuttle fish is a bit confusing so it’s best to ask the fishmonger to clean it, remove the cartilage and detach the ink sacs. I like to put the sacs in a little bit of hot water to dissolve and remove from the membrane. The beak and eyes need to be removed and the rest cut into strips. Otherwise it’s pretty straight forward so enjoy!
250g Cuttle-fish, cleaned and cut in strips with ink sacs detached.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 pinch Chili Flakes
1/2 cup White Wine
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped a small tin can be substituted
200g Spaghetti or Linguine
Heat a pan to medium high. Add oil and saute the cuttlefish for a few minutes. Add garlic and chili and stir for another minute. Add the wine. Keep your face away as this might flame up which can be impressive to your guest unless you light up your facial hair!
Add tomatoes, lower heat, cover and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta aldente. Check the cuttlefish and when tender add the ink, stir and simmer another couple of minutes. Toss the pasta with the sugo in the pan and plate
Calamari are extremely tasty but can be awkward to cook as they vary by age, freshness and ways of cooking. The adage is that you either cook them very quickly on high heat or slow cook them on liquid. We all love crispy deep-fried Calamari in batter or patted in flour, semolina or breadcrumbs. Stewed slowly in wine and loads of garlic they are to die for.
600g Calamari cleaned and cut into squares 2 large cloves Garlic minced 1 chilli finely chopped 1 glass White Wine 1 tsp Kunserva/ tomato puree 1 small can Tomato Polpa 1 large fresh Tomato grated 3 tsp Capers 1 tbs + EV Olive Oil 250g Sedani
Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan on a medium high flame. Add olive oil and saute the calamari until they start to colour. Add the garlic, chilli and tomato puree and toss for a minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add the tomatoes. You can use either fresh or tinned subject to availability, I used both. In winter sometimes tomatoes are grown indoors and are not as tasty. Grating them through the big holes separates them from the skin and creates a passata.
Lower flame, add the capers and simmer while you cook the pasta. Roughly it should be ready in twenty minutes but check at intervals as cooking time can vary Bon appetit
So yesterday I opened a can of Mayor’s butter beans by mistake. I thought ok I’ll have ftira but didn’t make it to the bread van. So I decided to create a plate of pasta with ftira ingredients. What could be more Maltese?
For pasta I used garganelli all uovo
2 tbsp EVOO
1 large clove Garlic crushed
1 pinch Chilli Flakes
1 tsp dried Mixed Herbs
4 fillets Anchovy
1tbsp Kunserva/Tomato Puree
1 can Tuna
1 tbsp Maltese Capers
10 Black Olives smashed and stoned 🥴
1 can Butter Beans
1 dry peppered Cheeselet/ Ġbejna tal-bżar
If available freshly chopped parsley or basil to garnish
Bring salted water to a boil and add pasta. Set mobile timer for al dente. Put a pan on low heat and add the olive oil, garlic, anchovy and herbs. Once it starts to release the aromas add the ġbejna and kunserva. Toss well and add the tuna, capers, olives and butter beans. Add a little of the pasta water. By this time the pasta should be ready (around 5-6 minutes). Strain and toss with the remaining ingredients in the pan. E voilà! Ready
Traditionally, lampuki are fried in flour or semolina. Today I tried using a mixture of breadcrumbs and semolina with lovely crunchy results
Basically it’s very simple. Dip lampuki fillets in a half half seasoned semolina breadcrumb mixture and shake off excess. Heat vegetable oil (about 1-2 mm) in a heavy based pan and add a large smashed clove of garlic. When the garlic starts sizzling properly add the fillets skin side down and leave for a couple of minutes until the skin develops a nice colour. It’s difficult to specify a time as it depends on the size of the fish but normally, when the skin looks nice and crunchy it will be about three quarters cooked and only needs another minute or two on the other side. This can be served with salad, caponata or a tomato caper sauce with thin round chips 😋
Of course I didn’t let the heads and bones go to waste and made a lovely Aljotta or fish soup, but that’s another story…
PS Oh dear! Had a case of late night malnutrition and put the leftover lampuki fillet on a slice of Maltese bread rubbed with ripe summer tomato, drizzled with olive oil and topped with kapunata. Mmm mind blowing 🤯
What I love about Sicily is that when you go for a stroll by the sea you encounter a bewildering variety of delicious, yet simple, food offerings. Using just a few but fresh and tasty ingredients they combine them in the best ways possible to titillate your senses as you sit by the sea and enjoy its fruits
More known for the Sugo Nero di Sepia, Cuttlefish is also very tasty without the ink. Inspired by the ingenious simplicity of Sicilian cuisine this recipe starts off with the cuttlefish sautéed with garlic, chilli and olive oil, deglazed with white wine and simmered with tomatoes and a touch of capers.
If you want to make Sugo Nero add the ink sacs from the cuttlefish
Cuttlefish 500g cut in 1cm squares. You can ask fishmonger to clean cuttlefish and save the ink if using. If doing yourself make sure to remove the cartilage and innards
Garlic 2 cloves crushed
Chilli Flakes 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil 1tbsp
White Wine glass
Tomatoes 3 chopped. I used very ripe beef tomatoes but long cherry tomatoes cut in half are good as well
Capers 1tbsp preferably Maltese
Spaghetti or Linguine 500g
Heat olive oil on medium high heat and add garlic and chilli for 1 minute. Add cuttlefish for about 5 minutes until the translucent bits turn white then add the wine. This might flame a bit don’t panic! Turn down heat add tomatoes and capers and a dash of water. Cover and simmer until tender about 20-30 minutes. If it gets dry add water from pasta, if it’s too liquidy take off lid and turn up heat towards end of cooking. Meanwhile cook spaghetti al dente in lots of well-salted water. Drain and mix in the pan
It is the height of Lampuki season in Malta. Known as Dorado, Mahi Mahi and Dolphin Fish, this remarkable fish starts to migrate along the Mediterranean in the end of August until November when it reaches a nice hefty size ( 1- 2 Kg ) and is quite plentiful.
It is caught in a traditional manner practiced since Roman times using rafts woven out of bamboo and palms known as ” Kannizati”. The fish go to seek the shade of the raft and are surrounded by a net. Because of its abundance at a certain period this tasty fish sells at a very good value and is very sought after. It is cooked in a number of ways, with the most popular being simply frying them dipped in flour or semolina but it can also be roasted, grilled, cooked ‘in bianco’, poached and, when it gets bigger towards the end of the season, baked in a Lampuki Pie. When it is fried it can be served simply with lemon or/and mayonnaise or with a tangy caper tomato sauce.
The other day,a friend dropped by with a sizable Lampuka and a few fresh prawns. I decided to take the simple approach as I believe that the fresher the fish the less you should tamper with the flavour and it looked very fresh.
I fillet the fish so I can use the bones and head for fish stock.
I prefer to use semolina to encrust the fillets as this tends to burn less than flour on high heat and has an irresistible crunchiness. This can be seasoned with salt and pepper.
A huge clove of garlic is squashed and and placed in a frying pan with a generous layer of sunflower oil on a high heat. When it turns brown it is removed and the semolina encased fillets are placed skin side down into the oil. Leave it untouched for a couple of minutes and turn down the heat to medium. When it turns golden brown turn over and leave to fry gently for another few minutes until it reaches a nice golden colour as well. It is difficult to specify a time as there are a number of variables such as thickness of fillet, freshness of fish, oil temperature etc. However the colour seems a good way to judge if it at the right point to eat unless the oil is too hot and it burns the outside before cooking the inside.
The prawns are the local smallish, red variety, very sweet tasting. They are sauteed in two tablespoons of olive oil, a clove of garlic and one chilli, both chopped, and a star aniseed. Two minutes on each side should be enough. The star aniseed gives it a pleasant liquorish sweetness while the chilli gives the dish its bite.