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Stocco a’ ghiotta, a fish course

A plate of stocco a' ghiotta

Stocco alla ghiotta is a traditional dish of Giardini Naxos (even if the origins are from Messina), but now widespread and highly appreciated throughout Sicily. In dialect, it is called Piscistoccu a’ ghiotta or Ghiotta ‘i piscistoccu.

If you are wondering what it is, this is the answer. It is the stockfish, or dried cod, and not the cod, which is instead cod preserved in salt.

What is the link among stocco, Messina, and Norway

Stocco may derive from the Norwegian word stokkfisk, which spread during the Norman domination. But the cities in the province of Messina are also linked to the Norwegian people for a relatively more recent historical reason. On December 28, 1908, a terrible earthquake (pictures here) struck Messina and Reggio Calabria; it caused about 120,000 deaths and the collapse of almost all the buildings. Rescue arrived from foreign ships sailing on the Mediterranean. Precisely ships came from Russia, the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Norway, but the two cities managed to recover from the disaster only after several decades.

Stocco a’ ghiotta recipe

But let’s go back to the recipe of the stocco alla ghiotta. The fish must soak in the water for at least three days so that it softens. After that, it is ready to be cooked in a sauce prepared with tomato sauce, olives, onion, celery, and capers. With the addition of potatoes, it becomes a single dish, accompanied by homemade bread. The sauce, however, can also be used to flavor pasta.

According to tradition stocco alla ghiotta is eaten on holidays, especially on Good Friday and Christmas Eve. However, it is now a consolidated habit to cook it at any time of the year, when you feel like it, just like my mother does. I confess that it is not my favorite dish, but if you like intense flavors, then you should taste it!

Let me know what you think 🙂

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