Purpetti is Sicilian for meatballs, but these purpetti are made with fish. (Polpette is the Italian word).
Polpette di sarde are made with sardine and are very popular in Sicily, however other types of fish can be used. In my version of fish balls I have used a combination of snapper and flathead (sustainable in Victoria), but any firm skinless, non-oily fish can be used. You will need a meat grinder or a food processor to mince the fish.
Polpette made with fish can be made with as many combinations of flavours and particularly common around Catania is the combination of grated pecorino, garlic and parsley, which is the same as for making meat balls. I like to add grated lemon zest and cinnamon as well. The polpette can be fried and served plain with a squeeze of lemon or poached in a tomato salsa as I have done on this occasion.
I presented them to friends simply served with bread and accompanied with some roast peppers and a green leaf mixed salad with radishes – perfect for a light lunch.
fish, 500g, see above
grated pecorino cheese, ½ cup
currants, ½ cup
pine nuts, ½ cup
parsley or fresh mint, ½ cup cut finely
garlic, 2 cloves, chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste
cinnamon powder and lemon zest, ½ teaspoon of each
breadcrumbs,1 cup, made from fresh bread
Cut the fish into chunks and mince using a meat grinder or food processor – I do not like it to be too fine.
Combine all of the ingredients – the mixture should be quite firm and hold their shape. Shape into small balls.
For the tomato sauce:
In a saucepan large enough to hold the polpette, heat ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, add a clove of garlic, a little salt and 500g of chopped and peeled red tomatoes (canned or passata).
Heat the salsa to boiling then lower the heat and reduce to thicken slightly for about 5 minutes. Bring to boiling again.
Add the polpette to the tomato sauce, cover and braise for 8–12 minutes. Leave to rest in the sauce for at least 5 minutes – this will help them to set.