If you’re still secretly wishing you dared cook fish for Rosh Hashana (you’re supposed to…), but don’t know how to even begin, today I’ve got some good news for you: it’s breathtakingly simple.
Americans have a fear of fish. My dad took me fishing one time when I was seven, in the Adirondacks. I caught two small bass, which was no mean feat for a seven-year-old because bass are feisty. It was so exciting! I beamed on the walk back to our summer cabin. Dad cleaned and scaled the fish, and cooked them for me in a pan, and they were heavenly! Did I ever go fishing again? No. Did I develop a passion for seafood? No. What’s up with Americans? Fish is so delicious, and so not a big part of our beef-and-chicken crazy culture. Granted, we’ve got great beef, and some fine chickens. Continue reading
This post is for Kathy, who asked how to make Greek style preserved salted fish. In Spain, as in Greece, this is a classic appetizer.
Palamida is the Greek name of bonito, a small fish in the tuna family. In Sephardic kitchens (or at least in those of the Rhodesli), that’s the only name given to the salt-cured dish made from it. Reader Ino Alvo recalls the word soymas from the Salonican Jewish community. I have yet to figure out the etymology of the word – probably Ladino – though it is at least partially based in Greek. The Spanish name for the same dish is mojama, which derives from mujaffifa (or something similar), an Arabic word meaning dehydrated. Language lesson over.
Curing, or “cooking” fish in salt is an ancient and universal preservation technique, used by the Vikings as much as by the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians – both of whom had trade colonies in Iberia thousands of years before the Arabs arrived.
If salting fish was commonly practiced among coastal peoples, it was the Portuguese who established Atlantic salt cod as a staple food throughout Europe beginning in the 1500’s (by that time the Portuguese traders were mostly conversos).
Let’s get back to the fish itself. The longer you leave fish – or anything – in salt, Continue reading
Anyone who’s read anything about Sephardic food must surely know by now that fish and chips made their way to England via the Portuguese Jews (who, by the way, were largely of Spanish descent).
Fish is an abundant staple throughout Iberia, and just as likely to be fried as not. In a place and time when it mattered, it was the Sephardim who fried their fish exclusively in olive oil, so it was indeed exotic and novel to the English, until then accustomed only to cooking with animal fats, to be introduced to this element of the Mediterranean diet – and in the sixteenth century, no less! The crisp batter is the real seducer, of course, but for me the English version is always a let-down, something they’ve not gotten the hang of despite four centuries of practice. With one exception – one! – I’ve never had fried fish in England that wasn’t Continue reading
“My father would eat an appetizer which was raw fish with lemon squeezed onto it. I think it is called LAKADA, made from mackerel. He would eat it with greek olives and bread.
I am a Sephardic Jew who grew up in Brooklyn and now live in Kansas City and would like to know how my mother prepared this dish for my dad.” – Joseph
The recipe name you’re trying to remember is lâkerda, the Turkish name for an appetizer of marinated raw tuna or of bonito, which is indeed a kind of mackerel (When made with bonito, it is called palamida, which is the Greek name for that fish). Both are oily, blue fishes. I’m not partial to mackerel, but I love raw tuna marinated in lime juice and this is essentially the same thing.
The technique is very straightforward; probably the most difficult part of making lakerda is cleaning and boning the fish. How you approach that will depend upon the kind of fish you’ve got, and what’s available at the fish market depends upon where you live. If you don’t know your way around fish, Continue reading