How I learned to cook whole fish, Sicilian style (and how you can too)

Four months into our round-the-world journey, we’ve wound up in Mediterranean Europe. First mainland Greece, then Naxos island, Rome, and now Sicily, then on to Provence in France, and the south of Spain.

I’ve arrived in the land of open-air markets, and I’m not quite sure how my husband is going to drag me onto the airplane that will take me away from this wondrous place.

For those blessed with access to a farmer’s market, you’ll understand my sentiments when I say the market is an easy place to delightfully lose track of time, sniff aromatic melons, smile at blushing red tomatoes, and fill your cloth shopping bags until you come home with a bounty like the one pictured above (the literal fruits of my first Sicilian shopping trip– local pistachios and almonds, three types of local cheese, salami to die for, and gorgeous seasonal produce).

There’s another side to these markets, however, one that even caught my children’s eyes (or rather, noses) when we first stumbled upon it. The fish stalls.

counter of fishmonger at market

It’s not a sight that we’re used to in North America. My fish usually comes frozen in packages, bound up in cans (for salmon patties), or at the very least, laying clean on styrofoam, shrink-wrapped in plastic.

Not here. Particularly on the islands or in coastal cities, the “pescheria” (as they call the fishmonger shops here in Italy) are prevalent and popular among the locals.

Wanting to challenge myself in each locale we visit, I decided it was high time I make my way to the fish stalls, purchase something fresh and glossy-eyed, and take it back to the kitchen of our rental apartment to prepare it as a Sicilian cook might.

[Read more…]