Monday, February 21, 2011

Anna Sultana's Torta tal-Lampuki - Fish and Vegetable Pie, Maltese Style

Hope the kids didn't get excited and expect something like a take-out pizza.
Just tell them it's a learning experience.

If the kids got to this post first, they're probably going to be expecting something like a cake from a fancy bakery.
Again, sorry.

Just a reminder, pizza is Italian for pie.
Torta is Maltese for pie.
Pie covers a lot of territory.

Torta tal-Lampuki is a lot easier than Carmela's recipe.
It's pretty much the same idea, but more like a pie.
You use puff pastry instead of home made bread dough.
You can find boxes of puff pastry in the frozen food section.
It's got lots of caulifower, onions and tomatoes.
But, it also has fish.
And you're going to have to do some substituting.

Lampuki is a common fish in Malta.  They're in season from mid-August to December and, according to the Maltese, they migrate in the Mediterranean Sea.
Yeah, right.
Lampuki won't even go near Sicily, so guess what your chances are of finding them in North American stores.

Okay, time to improvise.
Ma used bluefish, especially when Pop bought some fresh from the returning fishermen in Sheepshead Bay on Long Island.  Get a fish with a bit of density to it.  Sole will just melt to mush in this recipe. 

Oh, you can use any kind of olives you like.
Ma's not as picky as Carmela.

                        Torta tal-Lampuki
preheat oven to 375ยบ           
bake 30 minutes, until pastry is golden brown 

Cut into portions 
800 g (about 2 pounds) fish
Dip in flour and pan fry lightly.
Remove any bones and set aside.
In a dutch oven fry over medium heat 
2 onions, finely chopped

3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cauliflower, chopped
1 Cup fish stock
Cook until the vegetables are tender.

6 olives, chopped
Season with 
salt and pepper

Line a pie pan with 
300 g puff pastry
Put half of the vegetable mixture in the pan.
Put the fish on top.
Cover the fish with the rest of the vegetables.
Cover the vegetables with the remaining 
100 g puff pastry

With a pastry brush spread some 
milk or beaten egg 
over the top crust.
Prick all over with a fork.

Bake until golden brown.

Torta tal-Lampuki is also handy for picnics.
It's great as a light main course.
Kids like it, too.
As long as they aren't expecting fruit when they bite into it.

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