This delicious dish is of Sicilian origin where the culinary legacy of the Moors in the Mediterranean during the 8th and 15th centuries still remains strong. Traditionally, whole sardines or mackerel are butterflied and sandwiched with a breadcrumb, parsley and Parmesan stuffing. The plump stuffed fish with their tails sticking out are said to resemble the beccafico, a little bird found in Italy that loves to eat figs (fico). Here I’ve used King George Whiting fillets instead, adding currants, pine nuts, rosemary and allspice to the breadcrumb stuffing for an authentic taste of Moorish history.
(Makes 4 skewers)
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp + extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup currants
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 lemon, finely grated zest & juice
1 x 45g tin anchovies, drained & finely chopped
salt flakes & freshly cracked black pepper
12 med King George whiting fillets, boneless
4 thick bamboo skewers
4 lemon cheeks
1 tbsp torn rosemary leaves, to garnish
- Preheat oven to 180˚C.
- Gently fry the onions and ground allspice in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil until tender. Leave to cool.
- Place the breadcrumbs, currants, pine nuts, chopped rosemary, lemon zest and juice and anchovies in a bowl and toss with a little seasoning until well combined.
- Scatter the mixture over each whiting fillet and roll into a coil starting with the tail end.
- Thread three rolls on each skewer one by one and place well spaced on a baking paper lined baking tray.
- Press the remaining stuffing on top of each roll and around the skewers.
- Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before baking in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper, lemon cheeks and garnish with the torn rosemary.