Simple Maltese Cooking the Way Simon Says
A new book by Australian-born food and travel photographer and writer SIMON BAJADA takes readers to the Maltese archipelago between Italy and the North African coast with more than 65 dishes showcasing the country’s vibrant cuisine.
MALTESE CUISINE balances raw agrarian produce, fruits of the sea and honed yet simple techniques, with extra zest garnered by the spoils of the islands’ geography.
In Malta. Mediterranean recipes from the islands, author Simon Bajada explores his own family’s heritage, capturing Maltese food for the home cook, with recipes including ftira, a sourdough bread drenched in tomato, tuna and olives; aljotta soup, a flavour-packed brew of fish and garlic; and pastizzi, a deliciously addictive pastry.
Here we highlight a dish that according to the author encapsulates everything that makes Maltese cuisine so delicious.
TORTA TAL-LAMPUKI (LAMPUKI PIE)
PREPARATION: 45 MINUTES
COOKING: 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES
This is no humble fish pie, rather centuries of diversity on a plate and a certified Maltese classic.
In my opinion, if we were to define Malta by a single recipe, it would be this one.
British pastry encases an Italian-style preparation of tomatoes, vegetables, olives, capers and Malta’s beloved lampuki fish (mahi mahi), all finished with the flavours of mint, lemon zest and sultanas for some exotic punch.
When lampuki is in season, some cooks make multiple pies to freeze for later.
- 1 × 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) piece of mahi mahi (or another firm-fleshed fish such as marlin)
- plain (all-purpose) flour, for coating
- salt and pepper
- olive oil, for frying
- 1 small or ½ large cauliflower (600 g/1 lb 5 oz), cut into florets
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) English spinach
- 2 large ripe tomatoes (about 300 g/10½ oz)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 100 g (3½ oz/¾ cup) baby peas, rinsed if frozen
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon sultanas, (golden raisins) chopped
- 12 black olives, pitted and chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- grated zest of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon dried mint
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 140 g (5 oz) butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing
- 50–60 ml (1¾–2 fl oz) iced water
Combine the flour, mint and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs or rough sand.
Add the cold-water bit by bit and work in with your hands until a dough has formed (aiming not to overwork your dough).
Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.
Malta. Mediterranean recipes from the islands by Simon Bajada, published by Hardie Grant Books. Available in stores nationally from June 7. RRP$45.00. Photography by Simon Bajada.