tonno al forno con capperi e pomodori – baked tuna with tomatoes and capers

This is a typical way of cooking tuna on the island of Favignana, off Sicily’s west coast. We find the classic island supporting act (the combination of capers, olives, tomatoes and oregano) alongside the omnipresent west coast breadcrumb coating. Breadcrumbs are of course popular everywhere in Sicily, but in western Sicily are often found as a topping, whereas in the eastern part of the island they are used more often as a stuffing, or to Continue Reading →

polipo e ceci – octopus and chickpeas

This recipe came to me in a flash of inspiration one Saturday morning, and although I have since discovered that the octopus-legume combination is appreciated elsewhere in Italy, I still feel some smug satisfaction for having “invented” the recipe before finding out that actually I hadn’t. I say “recipe” because that’s what it is, but only in the same way that “ham sandwich” is a recipe. Unlike a ham sandwich, it does involve cooking, albeit Continue Reading →

acciughe – anchovies

Anchovies: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, especially in their preserved form – salted or in oil, in which they are only for aficionados of hard-core fishiness. I love them, but I must admit, it took a few years to acquire the taste. They’re one of the first things you’re likely to come across in Messina, part of the traditional focaccia topping of tomatoes, tuma cheese and escarole. Their salty, primeval kick can Continue Reading →

alalunga fritta con salmoriglio alla menta – fried albacore with lemon and mint dressing

I have been accused by some ­­– well, practically everybody who has had the dubious pleasure of food shopping in my company – of striking the fear of God into market traders. I have been told that they look on anxiously as I prod, sniff and scrutinise their produce, like the lead-up to one of those “The man from del Monte says ‘yes’” moments. Except of course that I don’t always say yes. And apparently Continue Reading →

pescespada al forno con limone – baked swordfish with lemon

It was hot, unbearably so. The idea of slaving over a hot stove was unthinkable. I had some thick slices of swordfish and little else apart from the Sicilian essentials I always have lying around – lemons, tomatoes, capers and herbs. And so I did something that I really shouldn’t have: I invented something. This, of course, is when Sicilians’ hackles start to rise. There are certain things that can be done. Some foodstuffs, such Continue Reading →

zuppa di pesce – fish soup

Last week’s ragù di tonno didn’t go down too well. I was even told off for applying the word “ragù” to fish. So this time something classic, that will hopefully keep the purists happy. What’s more, this dish for me is a benchmark. When I try a new fish restaurant, I will always try to order it, even if it’s not on the menu. Just as when I try a new bar, I ask the Continue Reading →

pasta al ragù di tonno – pasta with tuna ragù

Yes, tuna again, and brace yourselves, because there’s more lined up. This is tuna season, so what do you expect? And as you’ve probably realised by now, I just can’t get enough of the stuff… Today’s recipe is from Trapani, where they sometimes also add peas, which strikes me as a rare Sicilian ingredient slip-up. I personally love peas, but they are at their best when in similarly green company: simply dressed with butter and Continue Reading →