Fish Accessories: Capers, Garlic and Saffron

19 Apr 2009

Anchovies, eels, mussels, oysters, lobsters: There are plenty of seafood Presidia at Slow Fish 2009. But as in past editions, they are joined by complementary products, classic ingredients in fish cuisine like salt, olive oil, garlic and capers. How do their producers suggest they should be used?
“Yesterday we had some Norwegians come over and steal a few capers to put on their stockfish,” recounted Salvatore D’Amico, a producer from the Salina Caper Presidium. But at home in Sicily he says the capers might be used together with bread and olive oil in a stuffing for baked totani, a kind of squid. “These capers are more fragrant than others,” said D’Amico. “They are not empty in the middle, they have a meatier texture.” He recommended using the large ones, the capperoni, to make a caper salad seasoned simply with olive oil, vinegar, mint and garlic, served as an antipasto or an accompaniment to fish.
Garlic is the specialty of Saša Sever, coordinator of the Šarac Ljubitovica Garlic Presidium in Croatia. A heady aroma of garlic surrounded his stand, as visitors stopped to sample cubes of bread dipped in a mix of olive oil and finely chopped garlic. “This is how we use the garlic,” said Sever. He said the garlic oil is drizzled over grilled fish, but also “greens, vegetables… We use it with everything.”
From the other side of the Mediterranean, Mohand Ihmadi was representing the Terra Madre food community of Alnif cumin producers and the Taliouine Saffron Presidium in Morocco. He said the cumin was used as a spice in tagines, meat dishes, omelets and with fish, either added at the beginning of cooking or sprinkled over the fish just before serving. The saffron is mainly used in fish tagines, he said, slow-cooked stews made with firm, meaty seafood like tuna or octopus. “Or we make a green tea with saffron to drink after lunch or dinner,” he said. A digestif that might be needed after a day spent sampling seafood delicacies at Slow Fish…

Carla Ranicki

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