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The octupus: from the sea to our tables

Not only does the octupus often feature on the fish menus of Italian restaurants, but it is also found elsewhere. This is due to its easy availability, its tastiness as well as its versatility in the kitchen.

To enhance its taste, all you need to do is take some precautions during the cooking process and pair the octopus with ingredients that do not overpower its unique flavor. Because of its nutritional properties, also suitable for low-calorie diets, experts suggest including a portion of octopus in our weekly diet. Throughout this article we will analyse its health benefits, also thanks to the collaboration of Dr. Domitilla Grasso, a biologist and nutritionist.

 

The beneficial properties of octopus

Besides being a highly intelligent animal, the octopus is tasty and healthy. It contains mineral salts (calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus), which are useful for both the bones and the mind; moreover, it provides a good dose of vitamins, including vitamin C, which is excellent to boost our immune system, especially when the weather changes due to the alternating seasons.

Thanks to its low-fat content and protein intake, it is also recommended in low-calorie diets. As it contains, compared to other large fish, lower concentrations of methylmercury, a substance which is toxic to our body, you can also consume a large portion of it.

 

Some tips to best enjoy it

If we buy fresh octopus, it is always advisable to freeze it before cooking since, thanks to the variation in temperature, its fibres can break more easily. It can be cooked both in a pressure cooker or in a saucepan, in which a vegetable broth has been previously prepared with aromatic herbs, such as wild fennel; its taste will be even richer.

To check the state of the cooking process, just insert a toothpick into the part between the head and the tentacles: if it comes out easily, then the octopus is ready. Once cooked, it can be eaten simply with the addition of a drizzle of oil and lemon, or used as an ingredient for other recipes.
Thanks to its intense yet delicate flavor, it can be combined with different ingredients as well as accompanying sauces, and can also make an excellent filling for tasty sandwiches.

At Il Piccolo Mondo Restaurant, where the quality of the raw materials is always guaranteed, you can enjoy a delicious octopus salad with potatoes, green beans and pesto, or try the octopus in other delicious variations occasionally proposed by the chef, such as octopus with couscous of pulses and seasonal vegetables.

 

 

The fish products: characteristics and properties

The fish products, as well as being delicious, are valuable allies for our body. Rich in proteins, vitamins and mineral salts, they are essential in the diet  (eating fish 3 times a week is recommended). Quality and freshness, of course, are essential characteristics.

 

Fish products: nutritional properties

Fishery products are rich in proteins of high biological value (about 15-20%), which are more digestible than the proteins present in mammalian meat. They contain mineral salts such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and iodine. They are also a source of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, B vitamins and vitamin D, essential for bone health. Blue fish and salmon, in particular, are rich in omega 3, polyunsaturated fats that keep cholesterol levels low and prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.

The percentage of fat varies from species to species, depending on age and biological cycle. Skimmed fish products include mussels, shrimps, squids, anchovies, lobsters, cod, sole, sea bass, clams, octopus and cuttlefish.

 

Classification of fishery products

Fish products are divided into:

  • fish, vertebrates, which according to the skeleton are divided into bony fish (e.g. sea bream, ombrina, bass) and cartilaginous (e.g. race);
  • crustaceans, with an external skeleton called carapace (e.g. shrimps, lobsters and prawns);
  • molluscs, invertebrates, whose shell may be single and external (e.g. sea snail), external bivalve (e.g. mussels and clams) or internal, as in the case of cuttlefish, octopus and squids.

 

How to recognize fresh fish

To check if the product is fresh, it is necessary to evaluate some characteristics:

the fish’s eye must be vivid and protruding, not hollow and opaque;
the product must have a delicate, marine odour, not acrid and pungent;
the skin must be bright and iridescent;
the meat must be elastic and firm.

At Il Piccolo Mondo restaurant you will find fresh fish products every day, coming from auctions and daily deliveries. The summer menu offers delicious appetizers from the kitchen, raw seafood, seasonal first courses, tasty main courses, fish of the day in different preparations, in addition to the valuable crustaceans of our aquarium. Come and visit us in via Aurora 39, a few steps from via Veneto. You will find the sea in the heart of Rome!

For reservations, please contact us at + 39 06 42016034.

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Croaker: a fish with remarkable nutritional properties

The croaker or umbrine is a fish similar to sea bream and sea bass, but not eaten as much. This could be a consequence of overfishing in recent years, which has made it a rare fish. It is currently available on the market mainly for breeding.

It is a sea bony fish with an oval shape and a silvery color streaked with yellowish on the back, a characteristic from which the name originates. It can be eaten either cooked or raw, after being subjected to the process of killing to eliminate any bacteria that may nest in the meat. It is present in the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean, the Black Sea and the Red Sea. It prefers medium depths because it feeds on invertebrates, which nest in the sandy seabed. It reproduces between May and June, and is fished mainly in winter.

 

Nutritional properties

This fish not only has the delicious meat but also has numerous nutritional properties. Let’s discover its characteristics together, so that we can appreciate it even more. The umbrine is rich in protein, contains Omega-3, vitamin D and some B vitamins. Due to its low mercury content, it can be eaten several times a week. It also has the advantage of being an easily digestible food; it is good seasoned simply with salt, oil and lemon, so it is suitable for feeding children or those with pathologies related to digestion.

So let’s give space in the kitchen to this good and healthy fish!

 

Recipes based on croaker

The croaker is not very greasy, so when cooking you must be careful not to dry it up. Although the meat is very delicate and tends to flake, it can still be pinned and filleted without any major problems. If eaten raw, it has a more delicate flavour, which becomes more intense with cooking. An excellent recipe to prepare with raw croaker is ceviche, which involves marinating raw fish in lemon juice or other citrus fruits, along with some spices (including chilli pepper, which is a must!). At Il Piccolo Mondo, which has a vast menu of seafood from the Lazio coast, you can enjoy, among other appetizers, a delicate ceviche of croaker with lime and red onions.

The croaker can be cooked in different ways: in foil, in a stew, baked, roasted, boiled, always making sure that it does not dry out too much. It has an extremely pleasant taste and can be seasoned with salt, extra virgin olive oil and vegetables. Being a fish mainly caught during the winter, it can be prepared, for example, together with seasonal vegetables such as pumpkin and artichokes. At Il Piccolo Mondo you can enjoy an inviting croaker with pumpkin cream and artichokes among the main courses, appreciating the authentic taste of seasonal vegetables with excellent fish.

If you love fish and good food, Il Piccolo Mondo is the restaurant for you. We are waiting for you!

For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.