Thursday, August 12, 2010

Elba part 3 - Triglie alla livornese e pesce spada impanato (red mullet livornese style and sword fish with bread crumbs)

My little one is napping and my oldest is drawing the ferry boats she sees passing from the balcony with her cousin. I am about to help my mother-in-law clean 1.5kgs of fresh anchovies my father-in-law bought right off a boat here in the port for the astounding sum of €3! I am lying on the couch reading my favorite blogs and the comments you left me. The sun is shining, sailboats glide by and I am at peace with the world. Life doesn't get much better and I am appreciating every minute of it.

Every meal here is a treat I cannot wait to share with you. The other evening we had red mullet in a delicious tomato sauce and the most tender sword fish I have ever tasted. I love sword fish but am often disappointed by how dry it can get if it is not cooked the right way. The bread crumb crust in this recipe makes it almost creamy and it is so easy to make it is hard to believe it could turn out so good. Promise me you will try it the next time you find some good sword fish, even if you like yours as simple as I usually like mine.

Please keep in mind, as I already mentioned, that my mother in law does not give exact measurements so follow your instincts.

1 kg small red mullet
ripe vine tomatoes
pepper or chili pepper

Chop the onion, garlic and parsley and sauté in a large pan with plenty of good olive oil. In the original recipe you should roll the whole fish in flour and then fry in olive oil and put aside before doing this. Since we are trying to be healthy and eat light (who am I kidding???) m-i-l skipped the first step. Once the garlic and onion have softened add in a few small tomatoes and let them cook until they are soft too. Add as much salt and pepper/chili peppers as you like and then tuck those babies into the sauce and let them simmer covered on both sides until cooked through. However, if you are squeamish about fish bones and eyes staring out at you from your plate, you could filet the fish before cooking it or ask your fish monger to do it for you. Unfortunately, even if you buy red mullet in filets, they tend to have a lot of fish bones.

Ingredients for pesce spada impanato (swordfish)

3/4 slices of swordfish
approx. 12 tbsp breadcrumbs
approx. 4 tbsp grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan if you don't have any)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Mix all the dry ingredients and the chopped parsley in a bowl. You can use garlic powder or fresh squeezed garlic if you prefer. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix again. Place your swordfish on an oven tray and coat with this paste. Sprinkle any left overs on top. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200-220C° until golden and crunchy looking, Add a dash of white cooking wine half way through.
The same recipe can be used with several kinds of fish, from salmon to sole. My mother-in-law uses it with thin slices of meat too, minus the balsamic vinegar. But more about that in the future...


  1. I adore Swordfish & agree with you, it sometimes can be really disappointing when it's not cooked properly and ends up all dry and awful. But this little number... WOW.., it sounds really wonderful, a "must do".
    I found myself sighing with 'that sounds heavenly' at your description of your life.
    Looking forward to your next post too.

  2. You can try the bread crumb crust with many kinds of fish and meat too, by the way (minus the balsamic vinegar). Actually, need to add that into the post...thanks for reminding me. ;o)

  3. You're so right that swordfish can be quite dry so I'm really interested in this recipe. Love that photo of the foot in the sand! :D


Leave a suggestion, opinion or your own experience. I love hearing from you.