Hope you are eating well. I’ll come back soon 🙂
To be honest, I don’t care for sardines much. I’m a fan of blueback fish such as mackerel, horse mackerel and Pacific saury, but not sardine. I like anchovy and oiled sardines though – ah, neither herrings but like kippered! Weird, isn’t it? A restaurant in Palermo, however, changed my preference towards the fish (a bit 😀 ).
Sardines are so plentiful in Sicily, and you couldn’t fully enjoy the local food without sardines there. Among them, Pasta con le Sarde, one of the most famous Sicilian dishes, cannot be missed. I know, I know… yet I was still a bit reluctant to try the pasta when I visited Sicily for the first time….
It turned out, however, BINGO! Maybe because fennel makes the strong fishy taste less and helps the dish mellow along with other ingredients. I LOVE (now at last 😀 ) the unique but harmonious combination of the ingredients: not only the fish and the herb/vegetable but also sweet raisins, crunchy pine nuts and pungent saffron – and maybe salty anchovy as well. I think that’s why I like Pasta con Broccoli, too!
Unfortunately, wild fennel is not available here, so I replaced it with fronds of Florence fennel (cultivated fennel) and added some fennel seeds into the water to cook pasta instead of boiling the fronds in it so that it could enhance fennel flavour in the dish.
Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta chî Sardi in Sicilian) is a specialty of Palermo, and bucatini is traditionally used for this dish as well as Pasta con il Broccoli. The pasta can be found anywhere in Sicily, but there are many regional variations: with tomato (in rosso), without tomato and saffron only (in bianco), with roasted almonds, baked (al forno) etc….
Also, Pasta con le Sarde can be eaten all though the year, however, it is especially eaten well around St Joseph’s Day along with Macco. The saint day usually falls during Lent. That is the reason this meatless pasta with mollica, toasted breadcrumbs (cf. Bucatini con Broccoli) which symbolise sawdust (Joseph was thought to be a carpenter), is served.
(for 2 servings)
for topping: mollica
50 g bugget (stale bread is ideal), finely grated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 liter water
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp salt
200 g bucatini (I used no.6)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100 g onion, finely chopped
2 fillets of anchovy (3 fillets if small)
20 g raisins
20 g pine nuts
20 g fennel fronds, roughly chopped (big and woody stalks removed)
4 fresh sardines, butterflied and deboned
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
a smidgen (1/32 tsp) of saffron powder
(optional: freshly ground black pepper to taste, fennel frond to garnish)
If you have a bottle of arak (just wondering if pastis works as well…?) at home, try with the pasta! I happened to have an Israeli one, and enjoyed it very much – the anise flavoured spirits (with some water) cleansed the fishy taste but still fennel flavour (well, anise flavour actually) remained in my mouth, which was really refreshing and comfortable!
MUST EAT in PALERMO
Bucatini con Sarde @ La Cambusa
La Cambusa is one of my favourite restaurants in Palermo. I go back to the restaurant for the pasta whenever in Palermo. They serve wonderful fish dishes such as of sward fish etc.
Macco, served during winter or up to beginning of spring, and Moscato Passito, dessert wine made from Sicilian native Zibibbo grape, are also nice!
Street Food & Fast Food
Palermo is recognised as the European Capital of Street Food, and it’s in the fifth place in the ‘top ten cities for street food’ ranking published by Virtual Tourist.com. Enjoy the famous traditional delicacies!
And for a sweet tooth: