Seafood is quite polarized when it comes to the palate preferences of most Americans, but even the most enthusiastic fish lovers can dismiss the beast that is Madeira’s black sheath.
The Portuguese island is famous for its wide variety of ocean delicacies, such as lapas (octopus) and octopus, but the ugly swordfish stands out in a fisherman’s market like a sore thumb – or rather a long, black toothed thumb. -like eyes and a shiny exterior that can be seen directly from an oil slick.
I’m not saying my animals should be adorable before I eat them: Choosing beef, pork or lamb for dinner based on its grace is actually quite sickening. But a look at a black sheath will make you think twice before putting it on. In fact, you can even convince yourself that it will eat you first.
Of course, this nightmare is impossible. Because the black sheath hides at depths of up to 1,700 meters, water pressure actually kills them as they come to the surface. Whether or not this practice is human must be determined, but black sheaths literally do not live to see the light of day.
And yet, the locals are making every effort to maintain the tradition of this famous ingredient. According to Sílvio de Freitas, owner and executive chef of Peixaria no Mercado, ribbed fish without scales is actually so critical to Madeira’s fishing industry that it accounts for almost 50% of its exports from the sea. Needless to say, Ursula is not happy at all: she probably considers them her friends or her “bad’s”, if you will.
Large fish for frying
I never refused the opportunity to immerse myself in the food of other cultures, I overcame my initial reluctance to try black sheath and I went all in.
Traditionally, fish is served fried with local bananas and is one of Madeira’s most popular dishes.
“Its origins date back to the 1980s when the need arose to combine this abundant fish in the waters of Madeira with the abundant exotic fruit,” explains de Freitas. “The fillets themselves are seasoned with salt, garlic and lemon juice. Then they are rubbed in beaten egg and flour and fried in olive oil until they turn brown “.
Locals have also found creative repetitions, such as the addition of a passion fruit sauce that is becoming increasingly popular in Funchal (the island’s lively capital), especially among tourists.
This is exactly the preparation that called my name, as I am passionate … with the fruits of passion. Having tried the dish on many occasions, I can, indeed, confirm that the most emblematic dish of the island is absolutely delicious. Its texture and taste are more like eucalyptus: lean white flesh with a little oil, but a subtle sweetness and absolutely no indication of fishing. I also appreciated how the simple flavors of the fillet allowed the local products, such as the aforementioned passion fruit, to really shine.
While the black swordfish is virtually non-existent in the US, its more glossy sister, the silver swordfish, sometimes appears and can be found in specialty seafood stores. (Or just use cod cod.) That said, you can pay tribute to the famous meal using Madeira-inspired ingredients to capture the taste profile. De Freitas even has his own recipe below.
If there was ever an example why not judge a book by its cover, it’s this black sheath. Just be sure to add parsley … and avoid internet searches right before eating.
Black lazy fish with fried bananas
Concession of Peixaria no Mercado
4 black samaro fillets
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil (or more if needed)
2 bananas Madeira (or plane trees)
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Season the fillets with lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped garlic. Leave them to rest in the fridge for a few hours.
Put the flour in a container or bowl. In another container or bowl, place the beaten egg.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium to high heat.
Drain the fillets from the marinade and dip them in the flour and then in the beaten egg. Place them in the pan and fry them in hot oil until they get a golden color. Drain the fillets on absorbent paper.
Peel the bananas and cut them in half lengthwise. We pass them through the bowls with the flour and the eggs and we fry them quickly in the oil until they get a golden color. Let them drain on absorbent paper.
Place the fillets on a platter or serving platter. Put a piece of banana on top of each fillet. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with boiled potatoes. You can also make a homemade passion fruit sauce to pour over it.
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