In the cookbook Seafood alla Siciliana: Recipes and Stories from a Living Tradition, author Toni Lydecker takes us with her on a trek through Sicily in which she visits fishermen, fishmongers, restaurant chefs and home cooks all over the Island. The result is a comprehensive and evocative volume on the rich culinary tradition of Sicilian Seafood that not only gives us great recipes, but an insight on how history and tradition have shaped the wonderfully eclectic cooking of the island.
Lydecker gives us well written and easy to follow recipes for classic Sicilian dishes such as Pasta con le Sarde, Involltini di Pesce Spada (she gives us two variations of these typically Sicilian stuffed swordfish rolls, including a wonderful pistachio-crusted one with an escarole filling), and Tuna with Sweet-Sour Onions alongside more modern riffs on Sicilian flavors such as Aromatic Salmon Steamed in Foil and Braised Grouper Over Sweet Pea Puree. Interspersed throughout the book are great stories about the people and traditions she encountered as she explored Sicily, including a nice section on some of the more memorable meals she enjoyed while putting together the book.
One thing I was not expecting to get out of a book on Sicilian Seafood was great sandwich ideas, but the chapter on Savory Pies and Panini surprsed me with recipes like Pizza-Panino with Anchovies and Fresh Tomatoes and Sardine Sandwiches with Grilled Eggplant. That chapter and a one page listing of Antipasti, Presto or quick appetizers such as tuna crostini and roasted red peppers rolled up with anchovies are just two of the extra little touches that help make this one of my favorite cookbooks of the year.