|Bacalao stall Termini|
chilli powder or chilli flakes
|a slab of bacalao|
Spigola baked in salt:
The first time I tried fish baked in salt was in Sestri Levanti almost 14 years ago during my parents' golden wedding anniversary celebration. It was delicious and not easily forgotten! Then just last month, I had turbot baked in salt at the Casina Veladier, a restaurant atop the Pincio Hill here in Rome. I really liked this and was determined to try doing this at home myself.
My husband loves steamed fish, the way the Chinese do it, which to him is the way fish should be cooked. He believes and I think he is right that this is healthier than frying and brings out the real flavor of the fish. My mother-in-law always steamed her fish and insisted on it's freshness. I remember her pointers: look at the eyes, they need to be clear and luminous, pinch the fish, it has to be firm to the touch and then sniff at it, it should have the smell of the sea! If the fish had a slight smell (a big no no) or was bought in the afternoon, she would say "no good" but would proceed to make a curry or fry the fish with chili so as "not to waste it". So when I decided to try the salt baking way, I knew I had to find the freshest fish possible.
|spigola is in there somewhere|
First time I tried doing this, I was a bit uncertain, but found that it was really simple. First, stuff the cavity of the fish with some parsley and then on a baking dish, spread some of the salt, enough to hold the bottom of the fish securely. Encase the whole fish with the remaining salt and then put it in the oven (350 degrees F) for around 25 - 30 minutes.
After having eaten fish this way a couple of times, I found out that cooking fish this way originated in Sicily. What do I know of Sicily? Well right now as I sit here writing this, I hear the theme song of the Godfather in the background! But this notoriety may only be scratching the surface. Goethe reputedly said, "To have seen Italy and not to have seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything". Need to follow that clue...another side-trip to dream about!