Scallops Gratin with Almonds (Capesante gratinate con le mandorle)

Another delicious seafood antipasto at La Perla in Calasetta was scallops gratin with almonds. The nice thing about Italian cooking is that once you know the ingredients (vocabulary) and cooking techniques (grammar), you can very easily reconstruct dishes (sentences) without … Continue reading Scallops Gratin with Almonds (Capesante gratinate con le mandorle)

Seafood Cous Cous

The final dish in the series of Sicilian dishes I cooked for my parents is a seafood cous cous. I’m hesitant to refer to it as “Cous Cous Siciliano”, because I used a few shortcuts. You see, traditional cous cous in Sicily is made from scratch from coarse semolina flour and water, and then steamed in a terra cotta pot with holes in the bottom called a cuscussiera. The cuscussiera is sealed to the pot with simmering water underneath by a simple dough of flour and water. Instead, I used store-bought cous cous (also made from semolina flour) and followed the instruction on the package for cooking it, which says: combine the cous cous with an equal amount of hot water or stock, cover, and wait 7 minutes. That is indeed a whole lot easier, and although I didn’t do a side by side comparison the cous cous didn’t seem any different from what I remember from trying it in Sicily.

In Sicily, cous cous is flavored with bay leaf, cinnamon, almonds, parsley, onion, and garlic, and served with a tomato-fish stock and fish. I made up this recipe using this general guideline and using gurnard (“rode poon” in Dutch) and mussels as the seafood and we loved it. They keys to great cous cous are fresh fish, homemade stock, and not overcooking the fish. When using store-bought cous cous, it’s not that hard.  Continue reading “Seafood Cous Cous”

Scallops with Radishes and Sorrel Sauce

Life is full of coincidences. One day my friend Jeroen mentioned sorrel during our wonderful dinner at Bord’Eau, and then the next day I noticed sorrel available at a local supermarket. After deciding to buy it, I had to pick something to prepare. Sorrel can be used for salads, soups, or sauces. As a sauce it is usually used for seafood, and that is what I decided upon. I thought it would pair nicely with radishes, and so Scallops with Radishes and Sorrel Sauce it would be. Since I had some pancetta as well, I decided to use a bit of that for some additional flavor. I was happy with the result and really liked the flavor combination. I will definitely make something like this again. If you can’t find sorrel you can also use the greens of the radishes instead, but it won’t have the special tart flavor of the sorrel. Continue reading “Scallops with Radishes and Sorrel Sauce”

Eel in Tomato Sauce (Anguilla in Umido)

Eel is caught locally in the area where we live and we love smoked eel. Eel is also available fresh to be used for stewing, but I don’t care much for the Dutch/Flemish preparations. My curiosity was piqued though when I saw a post by ChgoJohn on eel stewed in tomato sauce Italian style (or to be more precise, in the style of Le Marche). I did some research and it turned out that this dish is known as Anguilla in Umido in most of Italy, and that it originated in Campania, the region of Naples. Anguilla in Umido is traditionally eaten between Christmas and New Year’s as a symbol to drive out the evil for the New Year. Eel looks like a serpent, and by eating it you conquer it. How simple was life back then.

So why am I preparing this dish in summer? Because fresh eel is available around here between May and October only, that’s why. And this year because of the cold, I only noticed eel at my fishmonger for the first time last week. It was very expensive (because eel is starting to become scarce), but I’m glad I bought it anyway because prepared this way it was absolutely delicious! The eel gives off a very nice flavor to the tomato sauce, the eel is tender and juicy without tasting too greasy, and the flavor of the eel is not at all overpowered by the tomato sauce. Continue reading “Eel in Tomato Sauce (Anguilla in Umido)”

Swordfish Salmoriglio

Swordfish is more meaty than most other fishes. So meaty in fact, that if the swordfish is really fresh and you cut away the ‘blood meat’, you could probably fool someone into thinking he’s eating meat rather than fish. There is one issue with swordfish and that is that it is often overcooked and dry. With swordfish this happens even more often that with other types of fish. By cooking the swordfish sous-vide, it will be very tender and juicy without risk of overcooking. The nice thing about cooking fish sous-vide is that it only takes a short time, so it is possible to cook the fish sous-vide without having a sous-vide water bath. You only need a digital thermometer for this to work. Continue reading “Swordfish Salmoriglio”