Tag Archives: seafood

Italian stopover: vongole, leeks and cannelini

Too much travelling the last few months, too little cooking. We just finished a lovely week off the Tuscan coast with friends. I am recovering from food poisoning  (never again samosas in Dar es Salaam…..) so ate little and cooked less, but this dish went down well. 

Italy is also in the grip of the heatwave named Lucifer. HOT here!

Same island every year, always wonderful. It seemed a bit quiet this year, the Italian economy must still be down. 

But we had a great week! Fresh fish and seafood from the fish truck, shouting Pesce Fresco each morning.

Vongole with leeks and cannelini

Bag of vongole (small clams)
Three cloves of garlic
Two leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
One medium tin of cannelini beans or other beans
Generous handful parsley, chopped
Two tbs olive oil
Splash of white wine or water, half a lemon if you have one 

Toast  or crusty bread to serve

Cataplana debut! I bought this in Lisbon in June, took it back to Accra, but decided this holiday was a good time to try it. Special pan for steaming shellfish, it clamps shut like a low level pressure cooker and worked really well. 

First: soak clams in water in sink for half an hour, removing any damaged ones or ones that do not close. 

Hear pan with a little oil and white wine or water, tip in handful of clams and steam 4-5 minutes with lid on. You will hear clams pop open. With a slotted spoon fish out done clams and do next batch, I did this in three batches so they were not crowded. 
Leaving liquid in pan, add sliced leeks and garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes while you de-shell clams and remove any that did not open. Optional step, we were waiting for a lunch guest.  Then add drained beans, chopped parsley and clams and heat briefly through. Maybe half a lemon squeezed over? Serve with toast or crusty bread.

Happy holidays!


Isola del Giglio: dinner at Da Tony

Moscardini at Da Tony
Moscardini fritti, so tasty……. Yes, here I am taking pictures of food in a restaurant, which is annoying. It is for research, I swear! We had such delicious food at Da Tony, and I want to try making some of these at home, if I can find some semi-decent seafood.

Tagliatelle alla scoglio
Tagliatelle alla scoglio (scoglio roughly means rock emerging from the sea): cozze, vongole calamari (mussels, clams, squid), scampi, cherry tomatoes, garlic, parsley, mmm…..

Tagliolini with coda di rospo, pachini and rughetta
Tagliolini with coda di rospo, pachino and rughetta. Very tasty.

Now, if I had brought along Daniel Etherington’s excellent guide Italian names for fish and seafood, I would have known what I was eating……..

coda di rospo – what a great name. It literally means “tail of the toad” or “toad’s tale”. The other common name for this fish is rana pescatrice, “frog fisherwoman”. Slightly more prosaically, we call this type of monkfish “anglerfish” (Lophius piscatorius), though other English names are frog-themed. Some more colourful Italian names are: diavolo de mar (“sea-devil”, also a name used in English apparently), rospo di fango (“mud-toad”), pisatrice nera, etc. Novel names aside though, the angler is really one of the core species to not eat, and it’s been on the Greenpeace Red List since 2010. Even the UK Marine Conservation society rates it as 4 (with 5 the worst).

Spaghetti alla vongole
Spaghetti alle vongole, the classic

Riso con crema di scampi
Riso con crema di scampi

Tagliolini con scampi
Tagliolini con limone e scampi, very light and fresh

This is all making me really hungry….. Now, some seafood for dinner, I think. Tonight we are making a recent Venetian-inspired recipe from The Telegraph, which looked fun: Sardines with Campari, peach and fennel recipe. Must go start the sardines now, they are already marinating in grated peaches and Campari. If we could then add the sound of the waves, a nice sunset and an evening sea breeze, it would be just perfect!

Skagentårta: Swedish seafood cheesecake


Skagentårta (Swedish seafood cheesecake)

  • 200g breadcrumbs, dry or fresh
  • 100g butter, room temperature
  • 100g shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 100g smoked salmon, diced
  • 4 dl sour cream
  • 1 dl mayonnaise
  • 4 leaves of gelatine
  • half an onion, chopped finely
  • large pinch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tsp of vegetarian seaweed “caviar” (see notes)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of fresh horseradish, grated (optional)


  • 100g shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 2 tbs of vegetarian seaweed “caviar” (see notes)
  • fresh herbs (basil, dill, tarragon – as you wish)

Mix butter and breadcrumbs and press the mixture into a 22-24 cm springform cake tin. If using dry breadcrumbs, you might need more butter. Prepare your gelatine: mine was in leaves, and called for soaking at least five minutes in cold water. In the food processor, chop the onion, then chop the salmon and shrimp roughly. Use other seafood if you wish. Tip most of the sour cream, mayonnaise, and dill into the food processor and give it a whirl.

Save a few spoons of sour cream: heat that gently in a small saucepan. Now, squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, and stir them gently into the warm sour cream, one at a time. The gelatine should dissolve. Then spoon the sour cream and gelatine mixture into the food processor. Add the vegetarian seaweed “caviar”, if using. Season to taste, add some horseradish for a little bite if you wish.

Tip all the liquid contents (with chopped seafood) onto the prepared breadcrumb base. Cover with clingfilm and cool in fridge for 4 hours so it sets. take off clingfilm, and garnish as you please. Shrimp and fresh herbs looks nice.

Notes: I had bought Tångkorn at IKEA: it’s a vegetarian caviar look-alike, made from seaweed, it looks like little black pearls. I was not quite sure what to do with it, so the jar has been languishing in the fridge for a while. This was a great opportunity to try it, and it gave a nice crunch. I might try poppyseeds another time. I made the base with dry breadcrumbs and half the recommended butter amount, which meant it did not hold together, so I increased the butter amount to 100g above.