Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Sicilian Fish with Potatoes and Tomato-Olive Sauce

Pesce Messinese

This classic Sicilian fish preparation of Messina is so quick to make that you can serve a restaurant-quality dinner at home in a matter of minutes. Everyone loves the combination of fish and potatoes accented with a robust Sicilian tomato sauce flavored with garlic, oregano, and olives. The tomato sauce can be cooked up to the final addition of olives, and reheated just before serving, making it easy to cook the fish then assemble the dish at the last minute.

Choose fresh firm fish filet or fish steak, cut thick, such as mahi-mahi, snapper, striped bass, sea bass, swordfish, or halibut. Grill, broil, or saute the fish. Place it on top of the sliced potatoes then garnish with the sauce.

4 servings. Cooking time is 20 to 25 minutes.

2 pounds (910 g) fish filet or fish steak (4 pieces)
1 pound (454 g) white, yellow, or red potatoes (4 medium)

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
1 to 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped (2 cups or 475 ml)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup (120 ml) pitted black and/or green olives, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1. Preparing the Fish: Check the fresh fish and remove any scales or bones. Rinse under cold running water, drain, pat dry, and reserve. Cooking Method: Pre-heat the grill or broiler or select a large non-stick pan for sautéing the fish.

Potatoes: Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick slices. Boil the potatoes until a fork pierces the slices without much resistance. Make sure the potato slices remain whole and not falling apart. This usually takes 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the potato slices, drain, and transfer to serving plates. Arrange them in one layer creating a flat bed that the cooked fish will be placed on. Keep the plates warm.

2. Cooking the Sauce: Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, warm the olive oil over low heat. Saute the onions until fragrant and slightly translucent but do not brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for several seconds until fragrant, do not brown. Add the tomatoes and oregano and stir. Turn the heat to medium and simmer the sauce until it thickens, for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the olives, stir, and simmer for a minute. Since olives add salt, taste the sauce now then season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm for a few minutes while you plate the fish.

3. Cooking the Fish: When the tomato sauce is simmering, season the fish with salt and pepper, then cook the fish. A 3/4-inch (2-cm) thick filet or steak usually takes 4 to 8 minutes depending on actual size, on how you prefer your fish cooked, and on how cold the fish is when cooking begins. When done, place the cooked fish on top of the bed of sliced potatoes and spoon the tomato sauce over then sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley for garnish.



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