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.
This hearty winter soup can be prepared in 20-30 minutes yet will warm you up from the inside. Let it rain!
Serves: 2 Duration: 30 minutes
1 Sweet Potato
50g Red Lentils well rinsed
1 small Chili deseeded
1/2 tsp Curry Powder
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 litre Chicken or Vegetable Stock
50g Cappellini Noodles broken in 3cm pieces
Gently fry the chopped onion and carrot in a knob of butter for four minutes until soft. Add the spices and fry for an additional minute to release their fragrance. Stir in potatoes and add the stock. Bring to a boil and add the marrows and the lentils. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for three more minutes. Rest for another five minutes to let the flavours mingle. The noodles and lentils will absorb most of the liquid making this a thick soup that goes down very easily on a winter’s night.
Many people say that they are scared to cook fish as they don’t know where to start. I find this way works with most fish with delectable results.
Score the flesh in a line parallel to the dorsal fin. Stuff this crevice and other cavities with garlic and herbs such as parsley or mint. Place fish in a roasting pan and cover with water. Add a bay leaf, an onion and two peppercorns.
Bring to the boil and turn off. Leave to rest for five minutes. To chech if it’s cooked see if it comes off the bone easily. This is where the score on the back comes in handy. You can serve like this or you can brown it under a hot grill or oven. With the roast Mediterranean vegetables. Mmm!
If it’s the bones that put you off ask the fishmonger to fillet it for you
With an invitation to a sail tomorrow my contribution will be roast Mediterranean vegetables. These are a perfect accompaniment to freshly caught fish (optimistic!) but also can be eaten with fresh bread, pasta, rice or couscous (more realistic).
Duration Prep 20min, Cooking 1 hour (approx)
Tomatoes 2 (optional)
Garlic 1 large clove
Chili 1 small
Olive oil 4 tbsp
Salt and Pepper
Wash and prepare vegetables into bite sized chunks. Place into a roasting pan, add garlic and chili, salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil generously.
Place into a very hot oven 200°- 220°C and leave until the vegetables start to brown (around an hour depending on oven).
This recipe is authentic in its simplicity and takes about fifteen minutes to concoct even if you do the rice from scratch. (I often use it as a way to use leftover rice the next day). You can add anything else you fancy such as prawn, chicken or roast pork or duck. Or just enjoy the delightful simplicity of fresh peas as in this recipe.
Serves: 2 Duration: 15-20 min
Thai Jasmine or Basmati Rice: 1 cup steamed in two cups of water
Eggs: 2 Lightly whisked with a fork
Peas ( Fresh if possible): 200 g
Soya Sauce ( I used Thai)
Sunflower or peanut oil: 2 tbsp
Thai sweet chilli sauce
Cook oil to a high heat. Add egg. When it starts to solidify after one minute tear it into strips with your spatula. While continuously tossing or stirring throw in the peas.
Keep moving for two or three minutes and throw in the rice.
Stir for two more minutes and add soya sauce to taste. (The strength varies from one make to another).
A squirt of Thai hot and spicy sweet chilli sauce gives it a nice tang.
For Prawn Fried Rice Simply add Prawns with the peas
I might have given the impression from previous posts that I am a vegetarian. My passion for food does not allow these limits to my taste buds. I am, however, quite conscious of the brutality of factory farming and the health implications of too much red meat and try to balance my diet and source my meat accordingly. I am still a sucker for a nice juicy steak once in a while.
I cannot really give a precise recipe for this curry as it was improvised on the fly.
What I did basically is I browned the chicken thigh in a deep pan and set aside. In the same oil I fried an onion, a carrot and some celery with a bay leaf. When they started to brown I added some curry powder, masala powder, cumin, dried coriander leaf, one fresh chili, tomato puree and grated ginger. I put back the chicken and added water to cover three quarters of it. Threw in one chopped marrow and one sweet pepper that I had in the fridge. I covered it and let it simmer for forty five minutes.
I used one cup of Basmati rice boiled in two cups of water with a bay leaf and simmered for ten minutes. I leave this to rest for five minutes before using.
Curries are excellent for using up ingredients which are getting close to their sell by date in the best possible way 🙂
As we draw into autumn pumpkin and other members of the marrow family become more evident at the vegetable markets and greengrocers. This recipe is a take on a traditional Maltese autumn soup “Soppa tal- Qarghat” made from the different marrows; qagħra hamra (pumpkin), qagħra Tork (white pumpkin), qagħra baghli (courgettes) and qagħra twil (long marrow). Any combination may be used. Squash is fine as well but I prefer vegetables that have been grown locally as this is more sustainable. White Marrow was not available at the market so I used what I found.
Pumpkin, Marrows and Long Marrows in roughly equal quantities. In all 1.2 Kg
Organic Quinoa 100g
Cumin Powder 2 tsp
1 small chili pepper
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Vegetable Stock 500 ml
Wash and chop the leek.
Tip: To remove soil and compost from leek remove the two topmost layers and quarter lengthwise leaving the root. Rinse thoroughly under running water and dry with paper towels.
Easily chop into 1.5 cm lengths.
Heat oil in pot and gently fry the leeks. When they start to get translucent add the cumin and the chili and fry for one minute to release the flavour. Add the washed and chunkily chopped marrows to the pot and barely cover with the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Add Quinoa, cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Leave to rest for another fifteen minutes during which most of the liquid will be absorbed.
I served this with grilled flat bread such as flour tortillas.
I made this traditional recipe for some very special guests. I will introduce them in good time. Ratatouille is a stew of the vegetables that are so prevalent in the Mediterranean in the summertime; aubergines, courgettes and sweet peppers, which originated in Nice and has been adopted by the Provence region. The circumstances dictated that I prepare a copious amount of the stuff, roughly enough for twelve portions but it is easy enough to calculate how much you want to prepare. Just keep in mind that you need approximately an equal amount of all the vegetables, maybe slightly less tomatoes.
The secret of a good ratatouille is to cook the vegetables separately so each will taste truly of itself.
—Joël Robuchon, The Complete Robuchon
Italian Zucchini 1Kg
Green and Coloured Peppers 1 Kg
Onions 1 Kg
Tomatoes 900 g
Garlic one head
Olive Oil 300 Ml
Basil a bunch
Salt 2 tsp
pepper 1/2 tsp
Wash the vegetables and cut them into 2.5 cm cubes. Start sauteing the vegetables one by one on a high heat in a large skillet or wok. Start with the aubergines,
brown them in some of the oil and move them with a slotted spoon to a casserole dish or a large pot. Repeat the process with the courgettes, making sure there is enough oil as the aubergine absorbs a lot of oil. Repeat with the peppers and onions together.
If your skillet or wok is too small do them in batches so you can get enough heat. Once these vegetables are all in the pot add the tomatoes, peeledContinue reading Ratatouille→
The idea to start a food blog came when I discovered that my weight had gone up by 5 kg over a period of two weeks. The point is to create more awareness in myself of what I’m putting inside my body by describing and photographing my food preparations while at the same time keeping a record of my take on classical recipes and also new creations. Simplicity and frugality are the order of the day.
“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” Paul Prudhomme