Sicilian Recipe: Penne with Eggplant and Swordfish

In this recipe, one of the most prized fish in Sicily is paired with the most typical vegetable of the island cuisine, creating an intriguing, delicate dish.

FOOD HISTORY

Although swordfish is often caught using modern fishing systems, in the Straight of Messina, or rather, in the corridor between Sicily and the rest of Italy, swordfish is still caught with a harpoon. This method has been used for more than 2,000 years and truly a sight to see. Unchanged during the centuries, the technique of harpooning is more of hunt, with its secrets and rites. Harpooning takes place off of special motorboats: twenty-feet-long feluccas, equipped with motors allowing the boats to move quickly. The boats have a long 65 to 130 ft plank reaching out from the bow and an enormous 100 ft mast. These are perfect hunting boats: once the swordfish is spotted, it has no chance of escaping.

High on top of the tall mast, there is equipment used to guide the boat, including a seat for the helmsman, who must have great courage and particularly good vision. The helmsman must spend the entire day looking for swordfish and, once the target is in sight, he has to both warn the rest of the crew and guide the boat near to the fish. Once the helmsman gets the boat close enough, the “u lanzaturi” are put into action. Positioned at the very end of the plank, the fishermen launch the harpoons with extreme violence in order to capture the swordfish.

Step 1
Cut the swordfish into cubes.

Step 2
Carefully wash the eggplants, peel them and cut into large regular cubes, coat in flour and fry in abundant hot oil.

Step 3
As soon as they are golden, remove them from the oil using a skimmer, dry them on absorbent paper and allow to cool.

Step 4
In a large pan, brown a chopped clove of garlic in the oil, add the swordfish, and season with salt. Brown over high heat, pour the white wine over it and allow to evaporate.

Step 5
Add the tomatoes, a pinch of black pepper and leave to cook for a few minutes.

Step 6
Cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water.

Step 7
Add the eggplants to the swordfish and tomatoes, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cook for another two minutes, adding, if necessary, some fish stock.

Step 8
When the pasta is “al dente”, drain it and add to the sauce. Toss together and finish off with the salted ricotta and a decoration of small mint leaves.

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