Gurbell [meagre in English] is one of the most delicious fish that is available locally. It has a firm and fleshy texture, with a mild taste that
High in fibre, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, barley is one of those old fashioned grains that is perhaps not considered to be as trendy as some other popular ones being marketed today. I like its nutty taste and the soft texture that never becomes mushy and it is lower in calories and fats than most other ancient grains.
Combined with fresh mint and greek yoghurt, this is a light soup that I first discovered in the back streets of a small cafe in Istanbul.
I love the fresh onion and garlic available locally right now with a milder taste and I make sure to use all the bulb and leaves. They are never overpowering.
Bing uses local Maltese pork. He loves the taste and texture and combines this with the freshest of ingredients. He believes that fresh ingredients contribute to success of this dish.
‘Eating fish during lent is associated with the Greek word for fish, ichthys, which is an acronym for Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, meaning Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. There are many interpretations of why Catholic tradition favours eating fish on Fridays, but the version that appeals to me most is found in the 15th Century Book of Festivals which says that when Adam sinned, God cursed the land – however, he did not curse the water and, therefore, it is lawful for man to eat what comes from the water during Lent.
Fish used to be the economical choice for families but, today, it is considered a treat, sometimes nearly a delicacy and often expensive. However, eating fish on Fridays is not about economics – the reasoning behind it is fascinating. After all, it is not exactly a penance eating fish, for most people.
This month we see a large variety of fresh local fish becoming available at local fishmongers; you should be able to find red mullett (trill), grey mullett (mulett), red rock fish (ċippullazz), white bream (sargu), moray eel (morina), octopus (qarnita) and gurbell (brown meager) and many more. When it comes to fish, the fresher it is, the better the flavour. To source the best fish, find a trusted fishmonger or hawker and stick with them. I usually ask for advice on fish from Saviour at Bottarga.
You can disguise the taste in chicken and meats that are not fresh, but the same does not apply to fish.
In today’s recipe, I use skate. It is soft, remains moist and still is under-rated.
The skate (ħamima in Maltese) needs very little cooking time and, for those that do not like the idea of picking bones, it is an ideal choice. Succulent, soft and moist flesh literally slides off the cartilage.
The flavour is delicate and, to retain its natural moistness, the fish is best cooked at a high temperature for as little time as possible.
This recipe is simple and easy to prepare and I hope you will give it a try.
Fresh fish should smell of the sea and the gills should be bright and moist, not just from being sprayed for display. When preparing it, the scales should flake off easily and the flesh remain firm. It is, sometimes, hard to judge when fish is ready and cooked and it may be easier to invest in a kitchen thermometer, rather than waiting for the flesh to turn from translucent to opaque. For perfect fish, the internal temperature should read at between 125ºC to 150ºC.
Eating raw fish has become very popular since the introduction of sushi. And cooking fish by merely soaking in lemon juice to make a ceviche style dish is another option. Unlike with poultry, eating fish raw does not carry the same risk of salmonella – however, raw fish may carry parasites and should be avoided by the elderly, pregnant women and children.
I like the simplicity of cooking fish al cartoccio, wrapped in a parcel with a slice of lemon and a few drops of olive oil, salt and pepper and baked in a hot oven for a few minutes. Fresh herbs, olives and capers can be added to serve it.
Filippo Berio Olive Oil available at Rimus Group
Olives and Capers available at Quality Foods
Saxa Salt by Premier Foods available at George Borg Ltd
Kitchenware by K & Co, Telephone 79415384
Fish by Saviour Deguara at Bottarga in Balzan
Fresh Vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscars Fruit and Vegetables and Barbuto [Organic]
‘Weekends are meant for baking especially during the winter months. Recipes can be adapted in many different ways to avoid gluten and to make life simpler especially if the cake is intended for sharing during a busy weekend.
Citrus season is abundant and at its peak here and some of those lemons weighing down the branches in our back gardens can be used to make this quick bake. This cake works well with oranges too and I have also made it with lime, substituting the ground almonds with coconut. The combination of lime and coconut is one of my favourites.
Buttermilk adds an incredible texture to anything that is baked and the cake crumb is lighter. This is a dense and moist cake and a small slice served with Greek yoghurt and slices of citrus also an incredible dessert.
For these traditional Maltese almond vegan biskuttini I use chickpea water [aquafaba] instead of egg to bind them
‘No celebration is complete without a sweet treat. Here are a few quick and easy chocolate recipes that require no baking that will be a hit for Easter.