Making Spanish dishes often feels like taking a trip to the origin of my Sardinian heritage. As Sardinia was invaded by the Spanish for many years, I always look for similarities with their culture: from the syntax, to the societal constructs, to the ingredients we put on our table. Almonds are definitely a staple in both Spanish and Sardinian cuisines. In Sardinia we have bitter … Continue reading Pollo en Pepitoria – A Spanish Sunday Lunch
I wish I had a magic realism story to tell you about Meatballs and life in the Sardinian countryside, but actually they are all about just-realism. Polpette, AKA meatballs, are probably one of the most common dishes throughout Italy: a dish that speaks about daily life, time spent in the kitchen with your nonna or mamma, crumbling dry bread with your hands. Also, meatballs are probably one of the first recipes one learns to cook, because it’s fun. I can tell you a story of dirty hands, trying to reproduce a perfect sphere of meat, and the only magic here is that my mother never fried the balls before putting them in the tomato sauce, but they never – well, almost never – broke.
Whatever the season, here’s a classic Italian veggie bake: Aubergine Parmigiana. As usual with typical dishes, this is a homemade tradition and every family has their own method and ingredients to make it. My friend Gianfranco from Puglia always says “You can be as beautiful as ever, but if you don’t know how to make parmigiana, you have no charm!” – this saying, applicable to men and women alike, illustrates how big a staple of the Italian kitchen this recipe is. Continue reading “Aubergine/Eggplants Parmigiana – a Classic Veggie Bake”
I won’t dwell too much on the name origin of this Italian classic recipe, for which many are the presumed stories , but none of them sure. What is certain is that this classic recipe from Lazio was popular only after the Second World War, it is one of the most famous recipes in the world, and also one of the simplest pasta sauces there are to make. However, you still find some recipes that get it completely wrong, by adding extra ingredients that are not necessary at all for this recipe. It is definitely a winner at dinner parties with Anglo-Saxon friends – who will wonder at how magically you pulled together their favourite breakfast ingredients in a dinner dish. Serves two people.
I’m a fan of Ikameshi (a Japanese dish from Hokkaido made from whole squids stuffed with glutinous rice), but as it’s part of a regional cuisine, it’s very difficult to find in restaurants here. There are many amazing recipes for Ikameshi, and this version I’m sharing is by no means the most authentic. I wanted to make it without using my rice cooker or pressure cooker, and more importantly, wanted to make the stuffing much heavier on elements other than rice.
There’s a story behind this imitated crab (sai pang xie) recipe, and it starts with the Empress Dowager Cixi craving crabs. Unfortunately, being based in Beijing means a lack of fresh crabs, so the imperial chefs found a clever way to cook eggs to make them taste as good as crab meat. I love this recipe because you can make a huge quantity of the “crab” without breaking the bank – and the bonus is that there’s no need to get fiddly with crab shells!
There are many variations of the recipe, starting with the poor-man’s version with just eggs. Others use white fish and a touch of prawns to achieve a texture closest to crab meat. I’ve used only prawns here, as I prefer that more seafood-y taste. I’ve also used a salted egg, as this adds a little extra punch to the recipe, but you can use normal eggs. If you’re using normal eggs, then make sure you add more salt in the egg white and egg yolk mixes.