THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING
Am I the only one who can’t believe we are just a few weeks away from Christmas?
The only reason I know this is because every day I am getting calls from clients wanting to book holiday parties. Then, looking at the calendar, like someone who has been living on the moon for the last 10 years, I stare at the 40 days countdown to New Years’ Eve.
So, since everybody is waiting for the first of January to start dieting, I thought I would take the freedon of sharing with you a video-recipe that incorporates one of my favorite Sicilian dishes: Tuna Steak with Rosemary and Caponata.
Gastronomically, Sicily is the meeting place of at least two major traditions, the Arab and the southern Italian, and the
result is not merely an imposition of spices and exotic flavorings on the home-grown; the Eastern influence can be seen, too, in the elaborateness of the many labor-intensive Sicilian dishes in which foods are not simply grilled, but first stuffed, if possible with something expensive. The recurring pleasant sensations involve the tart (capers), the sweet (raisins where you least expect them), the hearty (rich tomato sauces that taste of the sun) and the luxurious (marzipan and ricotta-filled pastries). And, in addition, the red (the showy scorpion fish), the blue (tuna, swordfish, fresh anchovies and sardines) and the silver (the exotic scabbard fish).
Found throughout the Mediterranean, today caponata is generally used as a side dish or appetizer, however during the 17th century it was consumed with bread as a main dish.
The origin of this dish is a mystery, as is its name. There are various theories however: some believe the word comes from Catalan, while others sustain that it comes from the Latin word “caupona”, or the port tavern where the sailors went to eat lunch. Therefore, in this case, capontata would mean bar food. But the most accredited theory is that the name comes from “capone,” a Sicilian fish enjoyed by the aristocracy and eaten with a sweet-and-sour sauce like caponata.
It is quite possible that the people, not in a position to buy the expensive fish, began substituting it with additional eggplants, while keeping the name of the dish the same.Caponata is still considered one of the most famous dishes of Sicilian cuisine which counts 300 different versions only in the Sicilian region.
Buon Appetito my friends!!
In Caponata, eggplants are traditionally deep fried to gain more flavor. Deep fried eggplant cubes are added to the other ingredients only at the end.
In a frying pan pour a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, and start sautee the red onion first, then red pepper and, at last, the zucchini. After a 3 or 4 minutes minutes we can add the other ingredients: capers, sultanas, pine nuts, sugar, white vinegar, pistachios, and the deep fried eggplant. Once the Caponata is ready, put it at rest in a warm place, and move on to the Tuna steak.
The tuna steak should be at least 1 inch thick to be correctly seared. To prepare the steak, season the steak with salt and pepper. In a frying pan put some Italian extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic (to be removed later), spring of fresh rosemary and sears the tuna steak with 1 minute cooking time per side approx.When the tuna steak is seared, it can be served as a whole steak, or cut into slices.
As a final preparation and serving tip, use a tin stamp to serve the caponata on the side of the dish, while serving the sliced seared tuna steak on the other side.