Melbourne’s favourite Sicilian mama Rosa Mitchell wants us all to eat more freshly-caught seafood from our marine backyard, Port Phillip Bay.
And the much-loved chef from Rosa’s Canteen is going to tell us all exactly how to do it at a new festival by Slow Food Melbourne in Spotswood on April 15. The inaugural Slow Fish Festival is a celebration of the amazing seafood resource at Melbourne’s doorstep, opening doors to the people who make it all happen. Learn from experts – from fishermen and women to marine biologists – while tasting the best flavours of the sea.
Rosa will join Ashley Davis and Sascha Rust from Copper Pot Seddon, Pope Joan‘s Matt Wilkinson, Anchovy‘s Thi Le and Frank Camorra from Movida offering cooking demonstrations. Expect seaweed, sea urchins, sardines, snapper, rock lobster, abalone and more (including fish and chips, of course, and a range of craft beers and wines). Slow Fish Festival will run from 10am–4pm at Spotswood Kingsville RSL.
So let’s warm things up with a five of Rosa’s favourite Sicilian seafood recipes. The whitebait is a MUST.
Stuffed sardines (sardine alla beccafico)
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup parmesan
Sliced bread (to make about 2 cups of breadcrumbs)
½ garlic glove
Salt & pepper
1 egg, beaten
½ cup flour
Olive oil for frying
Clean sardines. Place bread in a food processor with garlic and parsley and process to a fine consistency. Place in a bowl with the parmesan, egg, salt and pepper and mix well. Place a sardine in the palm of your hand and add a small amount of the bread mixture in the centre of sardine and flatten it slightly. You don’t want to go too close to the edge. Place another sardine on top press lightly. Repeat with remaining sardines. Place flour on a plate and dust sardines lightly. Heat oil in a non stick pan and fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden.
Pasta with sardines (pasta con le sarde)
1 pkt bucatini pasta
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1\2 cup olive oil
4 anchovy filets
150g wild fennel (fennel bulb with leaves or dill)
2 tbs sultanas (softened in warm water for 15 minutes)
2 tbs pine nuts
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
Pinch of saffron (dissolved in 3 tbs warm water)
Clean sardines. If using wild fennel or leaves from a bulb, boil in a large pot for about 15 minutes. Then remove, drain & squeeze dry before chopping finely. Reserve water for pasta. Toast bread crumbs in a large frypan over a low heat, stirring continuously until they are just light brown. Turn out onto a plate. Sauté the onions until they are lightly coloured. Stir in the anchovies. Add the fennel and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add sardines and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add sultanas, nuts and saffron water. Turn off heat. Cook pasta, drain and add to sardine mixture. Mix in the breadcrumbs and serve.
Fried White Bait
Salt and pepper
Rinse the whitebait, drain and pat dry. Season flour with salt and pepper, and then toss the whitebait in the flour. Meanwhile, the oil should be heating in the pan. When hot, place whitebait in the oil. Don’t overcrowd them. Turn them when they are a golden colour. Lift and drain on paper towel. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and enjoy.
1kg calamari, whole
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tbs chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, chopped
Chilli flakes (optional)
1 house brick wrapped in tin foil
Clean calamari, keeping wings and tentacles in one piece. In a bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic and chilli (if using) plus salt and pepper. Add calamari to the marinade and toss through. Refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours. Calamari can now be cooked on a griddle plate on top of the stove or on your barbecue. Place on the griddle and weigh it down with the brick. It helps it to cook evenly. Otherwise, it will curl too much. When cooked, slice and serve.
500g baby whitebait (neonato)
1 1\2 cups self-raising flour
3\4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbs chopped parsley
1 small garlic glove, crushed
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper
Place fish in a bowl. Add flour, garlic, cheese and parsley. Mix well but gently. Add eggs and stir. Mixture should not be too dry, if it is add a touch of water to just bring it together. In a non stick pan, heat oil over a medium heat and drop in 1 tbs of mixture. Don’t overcrowd, and cook until golden brown. Turn over and gently push down with your fork cook till golden brown. You want to cook with a moderate heat so that they cook in the middle.