spaghetti al nero di seppia – spaghetti with cuttlefish ink sauce

There are foods that we inevitably associate with certain people. If anyone mentions pasta with ragù, for example, I always think of my son, George, who must be one of the world’s leading experts on the dish by now, considering his vast hands-on experience in the field. And lemon meringue pie always brings to mind my sister. I’m not even sure why, although it might just be because her lemon meringue pie is so damn Continue Reading →

occhiata (biata) all’acqua pazza – saddled seabream in spicy tomato broth

Despite a few problems caused by the fact that the dialect name for this fish here in Messina is biata, I did in the end manage to find the Italian equivalent (occhiata), which led me to the English translation. As a result, I can confidently confirm that the fish I cooked was saddled seabream, also trading under the rather more poetic alias of Oblada melanura. The best way to identify it, I learned, apart from Continue Reading →

la calma prima della tempesta – the calm before the storm

Christmas Eve is the prelude to the chaos of Christmas Day, and so I try and keep things simple. No meat today according to Catholic tradition, and any tradition, Catholic or otherwise, that gives me an excuse to eat oysters and smoked salmon is fine by me. Of course, the original idea was that by way of penance one would not eat meat. Popping down to the fishmonger’s and hauling home a bag crammed full Continue Reading →

spaghetti con mosciame – spaghetti with dry-cured tuna

No, before you ask, I am not a paid-up employee of the Tuna Marketing Board. Yes, I know, I posted a tuna recipe only last week, but that’s just a coincidence. Admittedly, with my love for tuna, let’s just say it was a coincidence waiting to happen. However, fishy coincidences aside, I’m sure you’re all wondering just what mosciame is. Quite a few Sicilians from this side of the island don’t know either, so you’re Continue Reading →

fresh tuna salad – insalata di tonno fresco

What I really needed yesterday evening was a steaming, hot beef stew. But of course, that would have meant, amongst other things, planning slightly ahead, at least slightly enough ahead to slip to the butcher’s in the morning and stock up on stewing steak. Before you ask why, having missed my morning window of opportunity, I didn’t just buy some meat in the afternoon, I should tell you that butchers here only open in the Continue Reading →

spaghetti alle vongole – spaghetti with clams

This is not specifically a Sicilian dish, and other regions of Italy have their own versions (although variation is minimal). Anyway, it’s served in most seafood restaurants here, and is a favourite in my house, and that’s good enough for me. This is one of those dishes that I always feel has something of a restaurant aura about it, but I suspect this is simply a hangover from my English upbringing. Anything served in its Continue Reading →

spigola con salmoriglio – sea bass with Sicilian vinaigrette

This is so easy to make that it’s hardly a recipe at all, but then again it’s such a crucial part of Sicilian seafood cookery that I could hardly leave it out. Salmoriglio is the fundamental condiment for grilled fish here, be it swordfish, tuna, sea bass, gilt-head bream … With something so simple, the quality of your raw materials is what makes all the difference. Now, I’m obviously spoilt here, as you would expect. Continue Reading →