Being a pescatarian has never been easier with the huge array of fresh and flavourful fish dishes available in Malta, all promising to keep you buoyant.
Whatever floats your boat, you’re bound to find a lip-smacking favourite fish speciality on the Maltese islands. Local food author and television personality Karmen Tedesco extolls the virtues of including fish as part of a healthy – and tasty – diet. “Fish is one of the healthiest ‘fast food’ meals you can prepare. Simply brush it lightly with oil or honey and put it on the grill pan. It only takes 15 minutes for you to have a nutritious dish that’s ready to eat,” she says.
But, what if you’re dining out? Here are some of our suggestions for stunning seafood meals, guaranteed to keep you wanting more.
Malta’s traditional fish soup, aljotta is a chunky maritime beauty. Heaving with shreds of white fish, tomatoes and herbs, this local favourite is delicate, yet elegant, despite its humble origins. White rice is often added to add bulk, creating a meal which is substantial and needing little else in terms of companion pieces.
Oily fish, such as tuna, pilot fish and sweet mackerel, have a higher calorie count but they’re rich in good oils such as Omega 3, according to Karmen. If you’re in the mood for weak-in-the-knees tender, then look no further than a tuna steak. Usually served lightly grilled or pan-fried, with just the right amount of marbling, the meat falls apart at the touch when cooked well. And the quality of local tuna is world renowned with even Japanese suppliers buying from Maltese exporters.
White-fish, baked, grilled or fried
Whitefish are any kind of fish with a white flesh, such as dolphin-fish (known locally as lampuka), dentex, bream, red mullet and sea bass. They are, as Karmen explains, “low in cholesterol and almost matching meat and chicken for protein quantity”. Good fish restaurants usually offer an awe-inspiring selection, and the sheer choice can have a dizzying effect. If in doubt, choose the grilled option, especially in summer after a long day on the beach.
The Mediterranean in one pot, octopus stew is a dish cooked slowly, with tomatoes, garlic, onion, lots of wine and olives, the flavours mingling like best friends at a university reunion. Often served dressing a plate of spaghetti, or, even better, slipped on chunky Maltese bread, this homespun dish is a Sunday best.
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A meal of stuffed calamari is as full-bodied and heady as the local white wine and sea breeze which often accompanies it. Filled with tuna, fine breadcrumbs, olives, anchovies and, at times, pine nuts, this dish is also sometimes made with ricotta infused with lemon rind, a coastal reminder of the best and boldest of the island. It can be a brazen dish, a stomach-swelling conduit to a happy time.