Two interesting recipes courtesy of Salvatore Barbara, chef of the fab Dubbesi restaurant at the Kempinski Hotel Giardino di Costanza, in Mazara del Vallo, Sicily. A large part of the menu is devoted to fish dishes including local specialities such as fish couscous, slightly seared fresh tuna, swordfish
Messina-style, mixed grill of fish with rosemary and also dishes in which
Sicily becomes an international crossroads, such as the trilogy of tuna
consisting of three tuna tartares, in Sicilian, French and Japanese styles, all
in a single dish.
Fillet of sea bass with aubergine caviar and thick fish stock with field balm
Ingredients and method:
Aubergine caviar: Cut three large
aubergines in half, prick them with a fork and bake them in the oven until soft.
Remove the peel, drain off the excess liquid and add extra virgin olive oil, a
little sweet paprika, a very small amount of crushed garlic, a teaspoonful of fresh lemon juice, and a leaf of fresh mint. Chop finely with a knife or mash
with a fork.
Thick fish stock with field balm and cinnamon
Lightly fry half an onion, a clove of garlic, and a bay leaf together, then add the carefully washed sea bass carcases, and cover with white wine. Allow the wine to evaporate, add a stick of cinnamon cut in half, two mint leaves, very lightly dusted with flour, a stick of celery and half a carrot. Cover with water and reduce by 50%. Season to taste and strain.
Sea bass fillets
Place the fillets in a pan with a clove
of garlic, still in its skin, and a sprig of thyme. Fry lightly on both sides,
then remove from the heat, spread with a little of the aubergine caviar and
finish off the cooking in the oven.
Arrange on the dish, accompanied by the cinnamon sauce that has been heated up in the pan the fish was cooked in and blended with a little olive oil; arrange two potatoes “ad oliva” (olive-style) and decorate with fried mint leaves and a stick of cinnamon.
Three-sesame-seed tuna with baby spinach and brunoise of crunchy vegetables with 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar
Ingredients and method
Take 200 g. of tuna; 100 g. brunoise made from a mixture of carrots, celery, courgettes and peppers; a suitable quantity of baby spinach and the zest of a Sicilian lemon; black, golden and white sesame seeds to coat the fish; and traditional Modena 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar.
Coat the fish with the three sesame seeds and sear it lightly in a grill pan.
Boil the diced crunchy vegetables in water with bay leaves for about two
minutes, and dress with extra virgin oil flavoured with red garlic. Wash the baby spinach well, squeeze dry, and add a little oil and some strips of lemon zest. Arrange the dish on a plate and finish with a trail of 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar and a few flakes of coarse sea salt.
The island of Sicily is intimately bound up with the world of fishing, an activity that has, over the centuries, become a culture and tradition, extending its influence to poetry, sculpture, painting and literature. Good cooking, too, is fundamentally linked to the world of fishing, and conceals a poetic and mysterious quality: every dish has its own history and tradition and derives from the centuries of dominations and influences that the island has been subjected to, from the Arabs to the Normans, and from the Byzantines to the Aragonese.
The Kempinski Hotel Giardino di Costanza is in the province of Trapani, a short distance from Mazara del Vallo, easily reached from Palermo airport in less than an hour by motorway.
NOT SURE ABOUT ‘field balm’ IN THE FIRST RECIPE SO I’VE ASKED FOR CLARIFICATION