Insalata di mare
This recipe is from Giorgio Locatelli’s new book, Made in Sicily.
Insalata di mare
This is a typical antipasto all over the island, and will reflect what has been fished at any one time, so there might be more, or less, mussels, squid and octopus. Sometimes there will also be pieces of tuna or swordfish. Any fish goes, as long as it doesn’t have any bones. I have seen people adding things like apple, or carrot, or spring onions, to add a bit of crunch, but I think the best insalata di mare is this simple one, just with celery, which is very important to the flavour, parsley, garlic, lemon and oil. If you only have one kind of fish, you can make the same salad. One day we had boxes and boxes of seppia (cuttlefish) come into the kitchen at Locanda, too much to use up in the pasta, so we made this salad, but with cuttlefish only. Serve it at room temperature, not chilled, or something of the flavour will be lost.
Ask your fishmonger to clean the octopus and squid for you, and to give you the body and the tentacles.
If the octopus is fresh, beat it with a meat hammer to tenderise it and rinse it very well under cold running water, with the help of a clean sponge, to remove any excess saltiness. If it has been frozen, you don’t need to do this, as freezing has the effect of tenderising it.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the octopus, but don’t season it, or it will toughen up. Cover with a lid, turn down the heat and let it simmer gently for about 20–30 minutes, or until tender.
While the octopus is cooking, bring another pan of water to the boil and drop in the squid bodies and tentacles. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and drop the prawns into the same water for about 2 minutes, until they have changed colour and are just cooked. Peel most of the prawns, reserving a handful for decoration. Drain and keep to one side with the squid.