Monday, August 12, 2013

Anna Sultana's Lampuki and Qara' baghli biz-zalza pikkanti - Fish and Marrows with Piquant Sauce, Maltese Style

One of the things Paul and I have done during summers is fishing.
Our first catfish was a real adventure, both to catch and to eat.

We're not artsy when it comes to fish.
We don't mount them as souvenirs.
We eat them.

When people move to another country they often have to face a change in diet.
Sometimes it's obvious - spaghetti in Italy, tacos in Mexico.
A more subtle problem is the change in what is available in the market.

Learning to cook the local varieties of fish can be a real adventure.
Lampuki, a popular fish in Malta, are in season from August to December.
They migrate in the Mediterranean Sea.
Lampuki won't even go near Sicily, so guess what my chances are of finding them in a store in the north end of Winnipeg, on the Canadian prairies.

Ma faced the same problem when she went to the store in College Point.
She often cooked bluefish, which was easily available.
Especially during the summer, when we went on Sunday drives to Sheepshead Bay.
Pop used to buy bluefish fresh from the fellows who liked to go fishing, but who didn't like to eat that stuff.  
This was in the 1960s, when real American men ate red meat.
Yeah, and dropped like flies from high cholesterol.

But I didn't give exact measurements.  
Sorry about that.

The main trick to substituting for a Maltese fish recipe is to get a fish with a bit of density to it.  
Sole will just melt to mush in most Maltese recipe.
Bluefish worked well in Ma's recipes. 

                        Lampuki biz-zalza pikkanti

Zalza pikkanti

Place in a large skillet and heat
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, sliced
Fry until golden.

1 clove garlic, minced 
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
Cook for about 3 minutes.

1 Tablespoon sugar
6 olives, chopped
1 Tablespoon capers, chopped
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup meat stock 

Simmer for at least an hour.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the fish:

Combine on a plate
1/2 Cup flour
salt and pepper

Cut into slices across the bone
1 medium sized lampuka, cleaned
Dip the slices into the seasoned flour.

Fry the slices in hot oil until golden brown.
When slightly cooled remove the bones and skin.
Place the fish in a warm platter.
Pour the sauce over the fish.

Lampuki biz-zalza pikkanti can be served hot or cold.

Some people wonder what vegetable would go well with a sauced fish.
With the Lampuki you could serve Qara' bagħli.
Qara' bagħli biz-zalza pikkanti are Marrows with Piquant Sauce.
Yes, the same Piquant Sauce. 

Marrow is just another name for squash.
Ma said sweet potato squash was popular in Malta. 
It's similar to zucchini.
But the sauce would go well with any squash you have.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the marrow:

Wash and slice
marrows, about 2 pounds
Fry them until both sides are golden.
Place them in a warm platter.

Qara' bagħli biz-zalza pikkanti can be served hot or cold.

You could make a quick dinner by placing the fried marrows in a casserole, 
then topping them with the fish and sauce.
Tuck the casserole in the refrigerator and you're set for a cold dinner.
Some crusty bread would be nice for dipping into the sauce.

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