Pesce-spada (swordfish) two ways
|August 24, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under fish, Italia, italy, summer, Uncategorized|
[Service announcement: If you’re a food blogger or writer, you are aware of the sadness this month with the sudden passing of Jennifer Perillo’s husband. Bloggers Without Borders is working to make sure that Jennifer and her girls (ages 3 and '8) will have some financial security and have created a fund for them. You can donate through the site (a little goes a long way, via the power of many)]
And now, my post:
I was talking to a friend of mine about dreams and reality and she shared this quote by Anaïs Nin with me: “we write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection“. It struck a cord with me because sometimes I realize that when I am living a moment, in the now (i.e. reality) I am paying close attention to every detail, recording the scene in my mind for the future… knowing subconsciously that sometimes it might even taste better later, with a little ad lib (i.e. the dream we fabricate, a.k.a. memory).
Everyday ordinary happenings can turn into memorable reminiscences, because truly everyday moments are each one, in and of itself, magical happenings. They are each a moment that is gone as we are living it, never to return. And when I look back at my past, it is those quotidian moments that carry on forever the flavor of my existence. The sum of them making up on important patrimony of visions that exist in that suspended state that is my selective recollection.
While I was in Italy I tried to savor each small bite of time, food, person, avidly imprinting the feeling, storing it in a virtual hard drive. Once returned to my routine, I try to transcend the local domain that is Italy and try to transport that essence into my everyday living here, in the US, making my home away from home. And in doing that, my two homes fuse into one. I am here and I am there, but sometimes neither here nor there…just everywhere. A parallel reality…
So all that long winded thought to say that I am going to share with you (over the course of the coming weeks) a few of the dishes I had in Italy and that -when I re-create them here- bring flavors of Italy into my house, taste-buds and mind.
One of the small pleasant morning routines while there was going with my parents to the fish market (“la pescheria”, pron. peh’skeh’ryah). It is amazing the variety of the catch, the freshness of it all (there is virtually no “fishy” smell at all). Sometimes we would see the fisherman pull up and unload his cooler with 2 or 3 fish he had just caught not even an hour ago. Other times, down the marina, we’d witness the fisherman’s boat come back after a night a see, the nets rolled back up in a coil, unload the swordfish on a crane.
And at sunrise I could see the lonely fisherman below my house, on the golden flat surface of the sea sing -as the seagulls fly closer and screech- and slowly retrieve his net or “nassa” (crab and octopus fishing baskets), with a rhythmic motion that had something very soothing to it: a gentle reminder that everyday has it’s own catch…
Shall we talk about cooking some swordfish now?
There are many ways to prepare swordfish throughout Italy, and Sicilians are the masters at this. My family is especially fond of “pesce-spada alla griglia con menta e aceto”: grilled swordfish with mint and vinegar. You marinate the “steaks” first in oil, vinegar, mint and garlic and then you grill them and finish off with more fresh mint. The other way that I love in the summer is a very refreshing appetizer: “carpaccio di pesce-spada al limone” (a kind of ceviche, prepared by marinating thin slices of swordfish with lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, and some warming fresh sliced chili pepper). It goes great on crostini.
The 2 recipes follow:
- Pesce-spada alla griglia con menta e aceto (grilled swordfish with mint and vinegar)
- Carpaccio di pesce-spada al limone (swordfish ceviche with lemon zest)
4 swordfish or tuna steaks, 2cm / ¾ in thick
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 bunch fresh mint
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
1 tbsp red Madagascar peppercorns, to serve
2 lemons, halved
Wash the fish steaks and pat dry with kitchen towels.
Marinate for an hour with vinegar, oil, garlic and half of the mint.
Heat a heavy ridged griddle pan OR better, heat a real charcoal grill. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the hot grill. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn the fish over. Cook the second side for another two to three minutes more. When the fish is cooked it should be moist inside, with white flesh that flakes easily. Take the fish off the heat and season with salt, drizzle with olive oil, scatter with the herbs (remaining mint and parsley), red peppercorns, and and serve with the lemons to squeeze over.
Carpaccio di pesce-spada al limone (swordfish ceviche with lemon zest)
2 thick swordfish or swordfish steaks, super-thinly sliced
1 cup olive oil
2 lemons, zest and juice
1 small fresh chili pepper (or more), thinly sliced
Crostini (small slices of toasted bread)
Fresh mint leaves to top
Layer the swordfish sliced on a flat platter, slightly deep (with a ridge to contain fluids).
Pour the oil and lemon juice over the fish. Generously grate the lemon zest, add the chili pepper and toss with your hand (remember to wash them so you won’t get spice in your eyes…like I did!). Allow to marinate at least 6 hours or better overnight in the refrigerator. Serve over crostini.