Bream with garlic, saffron and preserved lemons

“As the Italian say, cook with love and passion. Which I translate as: enjoy it, give it time and patience, and be tender.Niamh Shields

I totally agree. Sometimes, cooking feels like meditation, all the stars aligned. I remember the first time I felt like this. Or perhaps the first time I consciously noticed feeling like this. It was over a big pot of ragu for lasagne. Everything felt just right: calm, complete, whole, balanced. I was happy and connected. And the dish turned out just delicious.

It’s similar with flavours, but the feeling is stronger and shorter. Like a dart of pleasure, a stronger connection, but one that lasts a shorter time. Some combinations just hit the right note. Like a culinary, gustatory G-spot. They’re simply perfect. Such as the flavours in Claudia Roden’s chicken tagine with lemon and olives, which were a springboard for this dish. I thought how well its flavours of lemon, saffron and herbs would go with fish. And then I made it and they did go together  so well.


Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets (the recipe)

Here is the recipe for Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets that I promised earlier.

I love these delicious fish cakes, or fish cutlets. This is the best way to use the humble tinned tuna, I promise! Serve them as snacks, or perhaps in sandwiches. I had them with thin slices of raw red onion, and it worked just great, though I must admit I usually really don’t like raw onion.

UPDATE 22 May 2010: I made the fish cakes with coriander, instead of curry leaves, and lemon instead of lime juice. I also add about a tbsp of dessicated coconut. It worked great!





Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets


SOURCE:  Jasmine

PREPARATION TIME: about 15 min


CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 (makes about 14 – 15 6 cm wide fishcakes) 



2 medium potatoes, cubed

2 tins of tuna

½ medium red onion, chopped finely

2 – 3 green chillies, chopped finely, deseeded if you wish

A few springs of curry leaves, shredded (I used 4, but I like curry leaves a lot)

½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or coarsely ground cumin and black pepper mixture)

½ tsp or more Sri Lankan chili powder

2 tbsp breadcrumbs, plus extra for coating

Lime juice to taste (start with ½ lime, and add more if you want)


2 medium eggs, beaten (or one large, with a little bit of water stirred in)

Oil for deep frying





1.      Boil the potatoes until soft. When they’re done, drain the potatoes and leave to cool in the sieve. You want the water from the potatoes to evaporate, so do leave them for long enough.

2.      In the meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients except for the salt and lime juice, and mix them in a bowl. When the potatoes have cooled down, mash them and add to the mixture in the bowl. Add the lime juice and salt to taste.

3.      Time to shape the cutlets! Take about a golf-ball sized amount of mixture and roll it into a ball. Next, flatten the ball, dip into the egg, and then into bread crumbs. Do all the cutlets in this way.

4.      Pour oil into a deep pan, or a wok (which is what I used, and what Jasmine uses), and put on medium high. You’ll need enough oil for deep frying, a few centimeters, I’d say. The oil is hot enough when it sizzles when you insert a wooden spoon inside.

5.      Fry the cutlets for a few min on each side, until they’re heated through and the coating is cooked. Enjoy!



More Sri Lankan Food at Maninas:

 The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)



      This is my entry for this week’s WHB, hosted by Susan from

      The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Dalmatian fish soup OR Dalmatinska riblja juha (i riba leso)

Coast near Pag bridge, Dalmatia

We are a family of fish lovers. – No, we are a REGION of fish lovers! But who could blame us, with the sea like this? 😀 And yes, it is precisely the sea that miss most now that I live away from home, other than family and friends, of course. I miss long relaxing walks by the sea, its ever-changing beauty, and its amazing bounty. My family love fish; in fact, I don’t know a sea creature we don’t love, except for the fact that I’m not too keen on squid if it’s not in risotto, or brudet (a type of fish stew eaten with polenta), but that’s another story.  

Dalmatian fish soup

Right now I’m craving for a simple, comforting fish soup, the way we prepare it in Dalmatia. Here are some photos and the recipe. This is another one of those posts prepared during the summer, that didn’t make it into the blog earlier.




Dalmatian fish soup   OR    Dalmatinska riblja juha (i riba leso)


SOURCE: My Grandma and Mum’s recipe


COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Croatian




1.5 kg fish (we used mol, which is hake in English – Thanks, Tea!)

a little olive oil


a few cloves of garlic, chopped

a bit of celery leaf

water as necessary

chopped parsley

1 large or 2 medium carrots, grated  (optional)


a few handfuls of rice


1. Cut the fish into portions, if you are using big fish. Add olive oil, salt, garlic, celery leaf and add enough water to cover the fish. Don’t add too much water, because it will weaken the flavour. Cover and boil until the fish is cooked. The fish is cooked when the meat becomes soft and white.

2. When the fish is cooked, take it out of the pot and reserve the stock. Leave a little bit of the liquid with the fish.

3. Add fresh chopped parsley, more garlic, carrot (optional) and rice to the stock, and cook until the rice is soft.

Dalmatian fish soup

Serve the fish soup as the first course, and the boiled fish as the second course. A simple side dish of boiled potatoes goes well with the fish, or some salad. My mum puts extra chopped garlic and olive oil on the table for people to help themselves to eat with the fish. We eat it like this: we take a piece of fish and put some of its liquid over it; then add a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle it with fresh garlic and sometimes parsley. I looove dipping bread into this!

Riba leso

fish soup collage



This recipe is a part of the event Teach a Man to Fish – the Sustainable Seafood Event. Go to Leather District Gourmet for a truly fantastic round-up, containing lots of useful advice and brilliant fish recipes!


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Tuna with a Twist

Yet another spontaneous post! This is my version of the old favourite – tuna & mayo sandwich! Delicious! Yes, I know that tuna sandwiches are normally not very exciting, but I simply loved this version with fresh basil and lemon juice, that I had to share it with you! So simple, and yet so wonderful! My other motive: making a note of it, in case my memory fails me, which happens often these days…

Pille from nami-nami, one of my favourite bloggers, is hosting this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, a fantastic event started by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen. I’m sending this entry over to Pille, with a photo of my beautiful basil (see below). Basil was recently voted the most popular herb of the 2nd year of Weekend Herb Blogging! Click here for round-up of this event!



Tuna & Mayo Sandwich with Basil, Lemon and Black Pepper


SOURCE: momentary inspiration, own recipe



SERVES: 1 – 2


4 slices of wholemeal bread, or any other that you fancy

1 tin of tuna

2 tsp mayonnaise, 3 if you dare (or add a little yogurt)

a few leaves of basil

a squirt of lemon juice

black pepper


  • Mix tuna and mayonnaise in a bowl.
  • Divide the mixture between two slices of bread.
  • Sprinkle the bread and tuna mixture with fresh basil leaves, freshly ground black pepper and squirt some lemon over it. That’s that!


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Cuttlefish Risotto

I would normally happily eat pretty much anything, and there aren’t very many things that I don’t like. In fact, I can’t think of any, except for… squid! Brrrrr…  My brothers and my uncle fish for squid, and all my family adore it and eat it fairly frequently, depending on how successful their fishing trips are! However, I rather dislike both squid and cuttlefish; fried or grilled, baked in the oven or in peka (cast iron dish covered in burning wood, very popular in Croatia). There is something about the structure, and the taste that doesn’t appeal to me at all. Unless they’re prepared in a risotto or a brudet (fish stew eaten with polenta), when the rubbery chewiness of the flesh is softened into flavoursome meatiness that melts in the mouth. The risotto, also known as the black risotto, is one of my favourite! I bought some fresh cuttlefish at the fishmonger’s this week, and made it for my boyfriend and me. Here is the recipe. You can use either cuttlefish or squid. Enjoy!  


Cuttlefish Risotto or Black risotto

(Croatian: Crni rizot) 

Serves 2  


 Vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped finely

1 medium to large carrot, grated

1 clove of garlic, chopped

500 g cuttlefish (cleaned weight), the ink reserved


Tomato pure

A splash of white wine

a little chopped parsley

2 bay leaves

a small sprig of rosemary

150 g Arborio or some other risotto rice

salt, pepper  


Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Halfway through, add garlic. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, as this is an important step. 

When the onions are done, add the chopped cuttlefish and fry it. When it’s done, add a little water and stir. This will further soften up the onions, so they are almost melted. When the water evaporates, and some more, and repeat the process until you get a mushy saucy mixture. Add the cuttlefish ink to colour the risotto black. Add a little of tomato pure and some more water to cover the cuttlefish. Cook until it becomes soft. Then, add the wine, rosemary and the bay leaf. Add rice and season to taste. Cook until the rice is soft, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary later on. 

Serve with a green leafy salad. In Dalmatia, we often use a very simple vinaigrette made with some red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a little salt to season the salads. The flavour of the risotto nicely contrasts with the vinegary flavour of the salad. Try using this simple vinaigrette with your choice of salad leaves. 



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