Malta is a beautiful island destination. Surrounded by the azure blue Mediterranean sea, we are fortunate for the abundance of seafood which is brought up to our shores thanks to a dedicated fishing community.
Notwithstanding the convenience of living on an island, fish sustainability is a sensitive topic which needs to be addressed. While it is great that we can enjoy the fruits of the seas today, it is more and more important that we can conserve this pleasure to be enjoyed by future generations to come.
A little bit about fish sustainability
Seafood is one of the Mediterranean’s proud culinary traditions. But fish stocks within the Mediterranean have come under growing pressure due to rising demand caused by economic expansion, population growth and tourism. This along with irresponsible practices of overfishing.
We have a role to be advocates for a better food system for all. One that is less wasteful and respects the earth.
Therefore as a restaurant one needs to do its part to deliver a better future for food. We need to make sustainable choices. Sometimes they can be inconvenient choices which might not always be appreciated by customers, but choices which have to be taken. We have a role to be advocates for a better food system for all. One that is less wasteful and respects the earth.
Our Principles When Sourcing Seafood
At Maldonado Bistro we have some basic principles to ensure we do our part to promote fish sustainability.
First of all, we never purchase fish which is not in season. This is irresponsible and encourages rouge fisherman in catching anything they can as they believe they will find a buyer for it.
Secondly we only source seafood which mainly has been caught in Maltese territorial waters to farthest throughout the Mediterranean. We are a Mediterranean restaurant so it is quite contradictory to purchase seafood which has come from Atlantic and/or Pacific seas, whatever the price may be.
Thirdly we prefer to get our hands on very large fish. Fish that has enjoyed their cycle of life. Which has not been caught small but has grown and contributed to the sea’s biodiversity. True that it might difficult to utilise the whole fish for one dish. But we have created our own formula to efficiently utilise the whole fish for different parts of our menus.
Preparing Maltese ‘Aċċiola‘
This winter for example we fortunately got our hands on a large Amberjack. In Maltese it is called ‘Aċċiola‘. It was a 45kg beast which our chefs enjoyed to process into different parts to make fillets for our main course, fish stock, filling for fresh pasta, and some cuts were also salt-cured to make an interesting starter.
Below is the recipe and method we used to make our own salt-cured amberjack which currently lies on our menu at Maldonado Bistro. We compliment the cured fish with a colourful heirloom tomato salad and a sweet-and-sour dressing with lime, honey and orange mint. It is a dish we have received positive feedback, especially during our open kitchen dinners. It is something different but still truly Mediterranean.
- Digital weighing scale
- Mortar and Pestle
- Plastic container with lid
- Ham Slicer
- 1 kg Amberjack (filletted from tail)
- 300 grams Sea Salt
- 100 grams Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Juniper Berries (optional)
- 1 Tbsp Fennel Seed (optional)
- Light ground the juniper berries and fennel seed in a mortar and pestle to release their natural oils. Mix together with the salt and sugar which will serve as the curing mixture.
- In a plastic tray which you can tightly fit the fish (Ex. used ice-cream box), place a layer of the curing mixture. Place the fish fillet and top with the remaining curing mixture.
- Place a lid or cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 4 to 5 days. The thicker the fish fillet is, the longer it will take for the cure to penetrate and extract the moisture.
- From day-to-day empty liquids from the tray and turn the fish with clean tongs.
- On the last day of curing the fish fillet will have shrunk and become firmer. Rinse with cold water of any remaining curing mixture and pat dry.
- You can immediately slice the cured fish with a ham slicer or a sharp slicing knife.
- Serve with a sweet and sour dressing with lime, honey and mint.
- Once ready wrap firmly in cling film and freeze for future use.