Saturday, 25 June 2011
Baked Sea Bass with Olives and Nostalgia ( Branzino- Orata in Tortiera)
Every morning she opened the window to look at the sea...
The blue sea
And every morning... the boats sailed over the "blue" as the sun burnt the Earth like it was midday.
Watching the boats
From far away, the smell of chamomile, made stronger by the sweet Summer breeze, reminded her of a Sunday morning, by the sea, when she gathered shells and dried seaweed and the ancient olive trees danced, over the other side of a busy road, as if they were running towards the water... It must have been early June, as the chamomile was ready to be picked: it had a rich, sunny scent... From the tiny flowers, the fragrance of a hot Summer's day, and a memory from the past... or maybe the future. Can you have memories from the future? What is time, anyway?
I so crave the sea and the colours of "HOME" in the Summer season. I remember all the adventures I had, with my father, catching crabs and shrimps, buying ice cream, swimming in the sea and finally, going back home.
Sea urchins and shell fish we caught in the Adriatic
I was looking at pictures taken one and two years ago, in Italy... the sea is so beautiful and so blue... How can that sea be so beautiful, so blue, so immense... bigger than the Ocean? Does my love make the sea appear deep and full of promise? How could the Greek Traveller fail to obey the song of the Mermaids? That is exactly what I hear... it's that song which allows me to "travel" so I can go back to life, as it used to be...
Well... I was obviously feeling very nostalgic, today, and a bit homesick. I miss my sea, in Summer. So... I had to cook a VERY Southern Italian dish, which would fill the house with "happy" aromas. May not seem poetic to you, but to me, it does... it reminds me Summer and of of home!
Here it is what I cooked ( not very poetic, but very good, indeed!)
Branzino in Tortiera
Baked Sea Bass with olives
Sea bass and sea bream
2 medium sized sea bass
a handful of olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 tomatoes halved or quartered
some olive oil
a generous sprinkling of Pecorino cheese
some dried origano
Optional: a few fresh mussels
for added flavour
I washed my fresh sea bass, cleaned it by discarding its fins and tail, then placed it in an ovenproof dish. Next, I added my chopped garlic, parsley, and arranged my tomatoes ( I used tiny plum tomatoes) and olives round the fish.
Ready for the oven
I added some water ( a couple of glasses- do not cover the fish!)) a generous glug of olive oil ( I also went over the fish with the oil!) followed by some grated cheese, salt, black pepper and some origano. I also added a few mussels to my dish, for added flavour. It worked! This dish is called "Pesce in Tortiera" a "tortiera being the name of the pan in which the fish is cooked.
I made a foil "lid" for my tortiera, which was then placed into a hot oven (200 C- Gas 6-400F) for as long as it took, really. I kept checking my fish and I knew it was cooked when it looked golden, a lot of the water had reduced, producing a fantastic sauce and the steam which came out of the oven made me think:"Hmmmm...." Translated, that means about 30 to 40 minutes!
My beautiful sea bass is ready!