Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Elba part 5 - Mahi mahi, impepata di cozze (mussels in their broth) and pasta alla Norma

In Italian, watermelon is anguria, but here they call it cocomero. Stands sell it by the slice

I could just snack on some of these... 


The days are passing in a whirlwind of sun, sea, sand, food, wine and childrens' squeals.
My father-in-law goes every morning to Fosco's fishing boat to buy whatever the catch of the day is. Yesterday he came home with a 6.5kg lampugapesce azzurro, better known in English as mahi-mahi, dolphin fish or dorado. My mother-in-law cut 9 steaks and froze them to make with tomatoes and olives in the near future. She roasted the rest in the oven for 6 of us. As I write this she is in the kitchen making fish soup with its head and other fish. And my father-in-law made linguine with the roe we found in the fish (1kg!). Needless to say, it was fabulous. Talk about feeding a large family for days!

Mahi mahi: an ugly little huge sucker!


Roe still in the sack. Laundry pin for size

Roe out of the sack

  Linguine with mahi mahi roe and tomatoes

Peach for size


The other day my father-in-law brought home 4.5kg of mussels. Meaty, tender nuggets of orange delight and broth that tastes like the nectar of the gods, the pure essence of the of the oldest, simplest recipes of the Mediterranean, but oh so good.

Impepata di cozze (6-8 people)
4.5kg of mussels
4 garlic cloves (whole or chopped)
white wine
chili pepper

Ask your fish monger to clean the mussels for you. Soak them in cold water to get rid of any excess sand. If they haven't cleaned them for you, scrub them under running water with a brush. Right before cooking them debeard them (get rid of the vegetative matter with which the mussel clings to the rocks; you can do this by tugging hard). Chop some garlic and sauté in a very large pan with olive oil and some chili pepper. Add the mussels and a splash of white wine and cook covered for about five minutes or until the mussels have opened. Discard any closed ones.
Serve with ice cold white wine and lots of crusty bread. Don't forget a spoon (or a half mussel shell) to drink up all the delicious, briny broth.


Pasta alla Norma
vine tomatoes
olive oil
1 large eggplant (light purple variety if possible)


Pasta alla Norma is another classic Sicilian recipe. All it is is tomato sauce, fried eggplant and ricotta salata but these three ingredients reach another level when combined, believe me.
I will not even give you a real recipe for this, it is so basic. Make a tomato sauce using the sweetest, ripest tomatoes you have, some garlic and good quality olive oil. After you have diced the eggplant, rubbed it with salt and let it sit for a while, fry it in a pan with olive oil. Drain it in a colander with plenty of paper towel, trying to get rid of as much excess oil as possible. My mother-in-law sometimes prepares the eggplant a day in advance. Serve with fresh pepper and grated ricotta salata (or parmesan, if you don't have any).


  1. Am loving ur advice on pasta alla Norma... I have had it here in the States - never impressed! I am going to try this method (I am able to gather eggplant and tomatoes the way you are able to gather fresh fish! They are plentiful to buy from local farmers right now!) Lovely post - really enjoy the pics!

  2. Hi UrMomCooks, I know what you mean, you've gotta buy as many tomatoes as you can these days, we'll be missing them soon. I'm glad you enjoy the posts. I love seeing the Texas influence in lots of your recipes: it gives me new ideas on how to use the same 'ole ingredients with a new, interesting (and let me add delicious) twist.

  3. Your meals are really the stuff that dream holidays are made of! Love those sand coated baby pics! So adorable! :D

  4. Mahi mahi: questo pesce in Calabria (dove mi trovo adesso al mare) è chiamato capone. Io lo conosco bene perchè mio padre ha una barca e negli ultimi anni ne ho visti tanti. Da vivi sono coloratissimi, iridescenti. Una volta pescati perdono i colori e rimangono argentati.Interessante la ricetta realizzata con le uova, non la conoscevo...buono a sapersi ;)

  5. Ciao Lilla, ho visto solo ora il tuo commento. Si, questo pesce è conosciuto sia come lampuga che come capone in italiano. Che meraviglia uscire in barca e vederli vivi in tutto il loro splendore colorato. Sei fortunata. Non sapevo che da vivi fossero così colorati.


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