12 April 2012


SARONNO, Italy – It’s been a busy week with little time to cook. Not only was Sunday Easter, but Monday was also a  holiday here, Pasquetta, little Easter. The tradition, at least it is a tradition in Rome, is that on Pasquetta you pack up the left overs from your Easter dinner and head for the countryside for a picnic.
All Purpose White Fish
I think that idea works better in Rome than in Milan because Pasquetta was no day for a picnic. After a few glorious weeks it has turned not really cold, but cold compared to what it was, and rainy. I know, I know, April showers bring May flowers, and I really shouldn’t complain because the weather has been wonderful, but still, after three days of rain you start to feel a little moldy.

Since I had company over the weekend one of the dishes I did prepare was an old Sicilian recipe for fish. As it turned out we went out to eat that night so the fish dish sat in the refrigerator. And it sat there the next day as well as we went out to eat again. So I decided to divide it into two containers and freezer it. Today, because I have an appointment in Milan and again no time to cook, I took out one of the containers of frozen fish, made some cous cous and abracadabra! lunch was ready.
Glorious Cherry Tomatoes
Freezing the fish didn’t alter its texture at all, which is what I was afraid of since the fish was frozen to start with.  You can use any white fish for this recipe, I happened to use codfish because I like it, especially for this recipe which is super simple and practically fool proof. This recipe feeds two people, for four people, just double it.

One trick I learned from a cook down in Tuscany was to pre-cook onions in the microwave until they are soft.  You have to add a little water to them, unlike other vegetables i.e. broccoli or carrots, because onions don’t contain water and they will burn.  I don’t know if there is a real name for this recipe, but I call it Sicilian Fish in Tomato Sauce.
Easy as 1,2,3

Sicilian Fish in Tomato Sauce

2 frozen codfish filets
1 can of peeled cherry tomatoes (you can use regular canned tomatoes, but I prefer cherry tomatoes)
¼ cup (more or less) water
1 clove of garlic (peeled and crushed)
1 onion, roughly chopped and partially cooked in microwave
1 teaspoon of capers (in brine)
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of oregano or marjoram

In a frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are completely cooked. If the garlic turns brown, discard it, and turn the heat under the frying pan down. Add the can of tomatoes, juice and all, and the water. You can also add a little dry white wine instead of the water if you want. The fish will not complain. 

Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes, about 5 minutes, and then add the frozen fish. They do not have to be defrosted. Cover the frying pan and let it all cook until the fish is soft. Add the capers and the oregano and let cook for another 5 minutes or so until the fish is thoroughly cooked. 

At this point you can turn off the heat and let it sit until you are ready to eat. Actually the longer it sits the better it is, even overnight is not too long – in the refrigerator of course. Just let it cool to room temperature before you put it in the refrigerator.

Serve hot over rice or cous cous or spaghetti or curly pasta, I think even mashed potatoes would work. 

This is a recipe my mother used to make, but instead of adding capers she added raisins and it was just as delicious. If you don’t have capers and you do have raisins, you might want to try her version.  

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