Being an island surrounded by the sea, it makes perfect sense for the Maltese to use fish in a variety of their dishes. Torta tal-lampuki is a pie made out of the fish known as the 'mahi-mahi', or the common dolphinfish. These fish migrate past the Maltese islands from the end of August until around November. The fresh fish are caught early in the morning and are transported to the fish market in Valletta on weekdays. However, the fish caught on Sundays are sold in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, on the south-east side of Malta. The freshly-caught lampuki are cooked with tomatoes, onions, olives, capers and spinach and placed in a puff-pastry before being baked in the oven.
Of course, you cannot visit Malta and not try one of the most popular snacks on the islands - pastizzi. These warm, savoury pastries are traditionally made out of filo pastry or puff pastry and are filled with either warm ricotta cheese 'tal-irkotta' or mushy peas 'tal-piżelli'. They are cheap, delicious and addictive, with pastizzerias found all over the island. Pastizzi are popular snacks at any time of day, all year round and taste great with a cold glass of Kinnie, Malta's own soft drink which has a bitter sweet taste. Pastizzi have become so popular in recent years that various cafes and restaurants in other countries, such as the UK, Australia and Canada have also started serving this delicious snack.
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons stir-fry sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1Lb pork tenderloin
In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Place the pork in a large resealable plastic bag; add half of the marinade. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting. Drain and discard marinade. Grill pork, covered, over hot heat for 15-20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F and juices run clear, basting occasionally with reserved marinade.
Most of the pigs on Maltese farms today are of a few highly efficient breeds such as Landrace, Large White, Pietrain and White Duroc, which provide what most Maltese consumers want; pink skins and lean meat at an affordable price. Malta currently slaughters about 1,600 pigs per week. This is a significant reduction from the 2,400 which used to be slaughtered weekly just a few years ago, although local pork consumption has not reduced. The difference has simply been replaced by lower-quality imported meat products.
This easy and ultra-delicious snack is Malta's answer to Italian bruschetta. Slices of sourdough bread are shallow-fried then topped with tomato pesto, basil, capers and a crumbling of ricotta.
- vegetable oil, to shallow-fry
- ½sourdough loaf, sliced
- 70 g(¼ cup) tomato pesto
- ½red onion, finely chopped
- 50 g(¼ cup) salted capers, rinsed, drained
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 75 g(½ cup) pitted black olives, sliced
- 200g fresh ricotta, crumbled
- 60 ml(¼ cup) olive oil
Heat 1 cm oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add bread slices and cook, turning once, for 4 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove using a slotted spoon, drain and cool on paper towel.
Spread bread slices with pesto. Top with onion, caper, basil, olive and ricotta, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Rissoles are a very popular dish in Malta and here Karmen Tedesco share her recipe using chicken. You could also use pork, beef or even turkey mince. They're just as delicious served cold as they are warm, so make great snacks the day after.
50 g wholemeal breadcrumbs
4 tbsp skim milk
250 g chicken mince
½ tsp mixed herbs
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
400 ml chicken stock
400 g tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
100 g rice
Parsley to garnish
Mix breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl. Add chicken mince, mixed herbs, garlic and egg. Mix well and let the mixture rest before forming the rissoles.
In a saucepan, cook the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves on moderate heat until boiling.
Add rice to the saucepan, mix well, cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
Form the rissoles (an ice-cream scoop is an easy way to create each rissole for a consistent size), add to sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes, until rissoles are cooked.
Garnish with parsley. Serve with steamed green vegetables.
In Malta, stallion meat is usually fried or baked in a white wine sauce.
A dish of cooked land snails, usually served as an appetizer in Malta and in Maltese Restaurants. Not all species of land snail are equally edible, and many are too small to make it worthwhile to prepare and cook them.
The Common Quail is also part of Polish cuisine and Portuguese cuisine, since these are easily chewed and the small size of the bird makes it inconvenient to remove them.
Bigilla is a traditional Maltese dish, made of mashed beans. Tic beans, known in Malta as “ful ta’ Ġirba” (Djerba beans), are used. These are similar to but smaller than broad beans, with a darker and harder skin. At United the Bigilla is served as a snack.
- 2 rabbits cleaned and portioned (the butcher should be able to do this for you)
- ¾ bottle of full bodied red wine
- 350ml of water (approx. 2 wine glasses of water)
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
- 8-10 bay leaves
- 1 x 400g can tomato pulp (polpa) or mashed up plum tomatoes
- 3 tbsps tomato puree’
- 2 carrots (peeled and sliced)
- 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled and roughly chopped)
- Salt & pepper
- 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Marinade (must be prepare the night before)
- Mix the wine, garlic and bay leaves in a large bowl to make the marinade.
- Place the rabbit pieces into the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the rabbit pieces from the marinade and shake off the excess liquid (don’t throw away the marinade – you’ll be using that later!).
- Heat up the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan on a high heat and sear the rabbit joints on all sides until lightly browned (approx. 4 minutes on each side). Remove the rabbit pieces from the pan and set them aside.
- Lower the heat and add more bay leaves and onions into the pan. Simmer the onions under low heat until they are browned (approx. 5 minutes). Add the garlic and continue to stir gently for another minute.
- Add the tomato pulp or the mashed plum tomatoes to the pan and increase the heat slightly. Cook for approximately 5 minutes.
- Now add the marinade and increase the heat to bring the sauce to a boil.
- Once again, add the rabbit joints to the pan and mix them into the sauce, topping up the pan with water until all the rabbit pieces are covered.
- Cover the pan with a lid until it comes to boil and then reduce the heat to a medium simmer.
- Wait for half an hour and then add the sliced carrots, diced potatoes and tomato puree’. Make sure all the vegetables are covered with liquid and continue to simmer the stew for another half hour.
- Wait another half and hour and gently move the lid to cover only half of the pan. This will allow the sauce time to thicken.
- Now it’s time to check whether everything is cooked. If the rabbit meat falls off the bone easily and the roots of the vegetable are tender, then your rabbit stew is ready!
Gbejniet are part of local cuisine, popular among Maltese, Gozitans and tourists alike. Gbejniet can be made with cow, sheep or goat’s milk, however it is the ones made of sheep’s milk that make the true gbejna. Gbejniet are made by adding rennet a digestive enzyme produced by mammals to the milk and allowing the milk to stand until it hardens enough to be cut with a knife, whereupon it is placed in plastic containers and allowed to harden further.
The Maltese sausage, also locally known as zalzetta tal-malti, is a homemade sausage that is influenced by England but made in accordance to Portuguese traditions. It is similar to the pork salsicca of the Italians and can be made either plain or with garlic, depending on the type. Fresh Maltese sausage is often made with garlic, while dry types are made without this. The production of Maltese sausage begins with ground pork and fat. This is seasoned with sea salt, crushed black peppercorns, crushed coriander seeds, parsley, garlic and other spices then stuffed into sausage casings.