Fish: you either love it or hate it! Fish has a particular taste and oily fish have a stronger taste than fresh water varieties. Those of us living in the Mediterranean are lucky to have fish as an integral part of their diet. The health benefits of having fish as part of your diet are immense.
Earlier on this summer I stumbled upon this tiny place in Ghar Lapsi (Malta) where they serve fresh fish. The place is the most basic ‘hole in the wall’ you can imagine. I believe it was a boathouse at one time, but is now changed into a bar cum eatery. It has no more than three tables of six inside and some more outside. The tables outside are covered with huge umbrellas to protect diners from the sun. If you are lucky enough to get a table outside, you can enjoy an amazing view of the deep blue sea whilst you’re having dinner.
The place is called “Carmen’s Bar” and it’s located at the top of the slipway from where fishermen go out on their boats. On Sundays, it’s a struggle to find a place, but yesterday I was lucky to get a good table for lunch.
The patron chef came out to the table with a platter full of fresh fish for us to choose from – amberjack, scorpion fish, bream, forkbeard and more – a whole selection.
I asked where he gets his fish from. “I have two local fishermen who keep me supplied.”
“Is this all caught around here?”
“Yes; the fish I sell is caught from the seas around Ghar Lapsi.”
“And how do you cook the fish”, I asked, “Do you grill it?”
“No,” he said, “Not all fish is suitable for grilling. Grilling suits steak fish better. Most fish on the bone is best cooked al cartoccio (in a parcel) or steamed.”
“Do you cook it in the oven?”
“Sometimes, but not all the time. You can steam fish nicely in a ‘pot’ (I presume he meant a steamer) on the hob. All you have to do is put in a small amount of water and white wine at the bottom. Add some herbs – basil, mint … onion – lemon slices and season slightly. Add a dash of olive oil on the fish and cover the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat right down and simmer gently for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.”
By now the scorpion fish we ordered for lunch was ready. “Was this cooked on the hob?” I asked.
“Yes; this I cooked in a pot, on the hob. In the case of scorpion fish I like adding a bay leaf in the cavity. It absorbs the slightly bitter taste which is sometimes released by scorpion fish.”
Interesting … I should try this at home!
“Enjoy your meal,” he said … and indeed we did. The fish was cooked to perfection! No fancy frills, just good fresh fish and salad, with some olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon accompanied by a nice glass of white wine.
Find out the more about the health benefits of including fish in your diet.