Hello, internet friends! People say that when you live abroad, you learn more things about yourself. One of these things I’ve learnt in just over two months here is that I love cooking, and can pretty much handle myself in the kitchen (so far, anyway). I find it relaxing and pretty damn satisfying, and I get to eat something yummy at the end of it all. Oh, and I live just a few minutes away from Grainger Market, a huge food market bursting with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish and all the cheese my little heart could possibly want. How can I possibly resist?
So – let’s talk about aljotta. This Maltese classic was originally considered “poor man’s food”, but has earned a place in the spotlight in recent years, making into some of my favourite restaurants in Malta, generally as a starter dish. I find this hearty soup so filling that I’ll happily eat it as a main, though.
- Around 400g – 500g small fish/any leftover fish you might have, cut into small pieces
- 4-6 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 onion (chopped, quite fine)
- 4 tomatoes (de-seeded, chopped)
- 2 tablespoons kunserva (tomato paste)
- 1 tablespoon dried mint (or a handful of fresh mint leaves)
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram (or a few sprigs of fresh marjoram)
- 100ml dry white wine (optional)
- 2 fish stock pots or stock cubes; alternately you can make a nice broth out of fish bones
- 1.5 litres boiling water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Lemon (cut into wedges)
- Rice (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or pot. Toss in the chopped onion and garlic and cook them on a medium heat until soft and golden brown.
- Add the fish, mint, marjoram, tomatoes, salt, pepper and stir gently, without breaking the fish. Cook for approximately 5 mins, stirring every so often.
- Pour in a (generous) glug of white wine and stir some more. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
- Add stock pot/cubes to boiling water (around half a litre); add the stock to the fish before adding the rest of the boiling water (again, about half a litre). Add tomato paste and stir gently.
- Bring soup to the boil and leave to simmer on low/medium heat for about 30 mins (optional: add rice).
- Serve nice and hot, with lemon wedges.
- Enjoy with a slice of crusty bread (Maltese bread, if you have it!)
What’s your favourite Maltese dish? Share in a comment!