Fish

Fish

By
Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781784880514

From our room in the Palladio hotel in Giardini Naxos we watched the sun rise and the fishing boats gather in the harbour, obviously preparing to follow one another to an area where a shoal had been found. Later in the morning we went to the market with Caterina, the hotel owner, and saw the fish being brought in from the boats. We bought swordfish, tuna and sardines and returned to the hotel to cook them with her. ‘It’s all about the freshness and provenance,’ she said.

The most popular fish in Sicily are tuna and swordfish and you will find them on menus raw, cooked and smoked, all delicious. There are plenty of other varieties, referred to as blue for oily fish, red for fish such as tuna and white for the rest.

In Palermo, you can go to the Borgo Vecchio and watch the locals choose their fish from the fishmonger’s stand and take it to Da Michele, where it will be cooked right there and then. At the port you can see fishmongers waiting with their marble slabs and sharp knives at the ready. As soon as the boats come in, they are all set to start scaling, cleaning and filleting the fish ready to sell.

There are wonderful seafood restaurants, like Sakalleo in Scoglitti, which have no menu but instead serve a stream of the freshest seafood until you can eat no more and say, ‘Stop!’

When we were there, a group of Sicilian men descended on the restaurant Apollonion in Ortigia and clearly relished their food. They were obviously regulars and knew the owner Carlo well. He was also the chef and ducked in and out of the kitchen, bringing out enormous platters of shellfish, mussels, fish in caponata and tuna to the men. He also found time to cuddle his granddaughter (who will apparently take over the restaurant one day) and clear plates all at the same time. The men crushed the skeletons of the crustaceans with their hands and sucked out the insides, mopping up the juices with bread soaked in oil, oregano and chilli and quaffing short tumblers of Nero d’Avola. They were all chefs and had just finished cooking pizza at a culinary fair and were enjoying a day off. ‘When we eat, we are serious,’ one said to us as dish after dish came out to satisfy their furious appetites. What a wonderful way to spend your day off, I thought.

Recipes in this Chapter

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