Home » The spatula fish: 8 recipes to try with the Queen of the Mediterranean

The spatula fish: 8 recipes to try with the Queen of the Mediterranean

by Ada Parisi
5 min read
La spatola, o pesce bandiera

Today we talk about the spatula fish with 8 recipes all to try. The spatula is the queen of southern Italian summer cuisine. Also called flag fish or saber fish, she is loved especially in Sicily and Calabria, also known and appreciated in Salento and Campania, but little known in the rest of Italy. A pity, because it's a skinny fish, white, firm meats with rosy shades. Is’ a tasty and versatile fish in the kitchen. And you find it at a still affordable price, despite the large differences between one region and another: In Sicily the average price is 10 euros (I still remember when it cost 6 euros a kilo), 20 euros per kilo in Lazio. Perfect grilled, in cutlets, in roulade but also to be placed in tasty Parmigiane, the spatula is a fish to be re-evaluated and experimented in the kitchen.

Swivels of spatula: Fast and delicious Sicilian recipe

The spatula: features and fishing areas

His scientific name is Lepidopus Caudatus. In the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and Calabria, one of the main fishing and consumption areas of this blue fish, the spatula is called 'Lady of the Sea’ because, despite the low price, it is considered not wrongly a prized fish. The main fishing areas are the Mediterranean Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, the Jonio Sea and the Gulf of Naples. The spatula is a ribbon-like fish that can reach two meters in length and a weight of 9 kilograms. It looks like a silver ribbon moving sinuously in the water. The spatula is a deep fish devoid of scales and has a central shaft. The lack of scales means that, depending on how the spatula was caught (trawls, ciancioli or line), sometimes you arrive on the market stalls with an unainviting appearance, as if it had been scratched.

The spatula fishing period is the summer one: from June to September, when it rises into shallower water. Despite being fished in many Italian seaside areas, not always the spatula found on the pews of the fishmongers is Italian. Especially when it is large and is out of the Italian seasonal period, as it is also found in the waters of the Eastern Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Swivels of spatula: Fast and delicious Sicilian recipe

Nutritional properties of the spatula

The spatula is a blue fish and, like all blue fish, it is particularly rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6. One hundred grams of spatula bring just 102 calories. In detail 100 grams contain the 16,6 grams of protein, 2,4 grams fat and 78,94 grams of water. The fats contained in the spatula (percentage of 8,6%), are rich in palmitic acid.

Tips for buying and using

When buying the spatula it is good to check that the surface of the fish is bright silver, glossy and firm to the touch, with the eye alive and shiny. The spatula has a large central line that needs to be removed by filleting the fish in two parts: regions where its use is widespread, master fishmongers are very good at filleting the spatula with the slightest waste. On the other hand, the bones and head can be used to prepare a delicate FISH SAUCE SPATULA, so put them aside. And now let's take a look at the 8 recipes to try with the spatula fish.

Fish Cutlets spatula Sicilian


Sicilian cuisine is full of recipes with spatula fish. One of the most popular is the recipe FISH SPATOLA IN CUTLETS. A kind of 'fish sticks'’ fresh and spineless, breaded in flour, egg and breadcrumbs like classic cutlets and enriched with chopped parsley (some also add a little’ finely chopped garlic). Simple to make, are the perfect way to make children eat this delicate blue fish without bones.

Fish spatula gratin Sicilian

Fish spatula gratin Sicilian

For those who prefer not to fry, The spatula is a perfect fish for baking. Starting with the GIRELLE OF SPATULA, soft fish turbans stuffed with Sicilian with bread seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, tomato, Capers, parsley and garlic. Tasty and easy to prepare, remain soft and juicy. You can also have fun and try a much-loved variant also in Calabria, that of the SVOLS WITH FRIED EGGPLANT and the provolone, really greedy. Or, if you're on a diet, you can experience GIRELLE WITH GRILLED EGGPLANT, low in calories and rich in taste. An alternative to the simple but good grilled spatula.

Nothing is thrown away from the spatula: even if who fillets it is a master, it's only natural that it stays a little’ of meat attached to the large central lingo. And the head, sharp-toothed, it's full of meat, especially in the cheeks. With these scraps and very few ingredients you can prepare a very delicate FISH SAUCE SPATULA to season the noodles. A dish that you won't find in any restaurant but that you prepare, by tradition, in the house every time you buy the flag fish.

The spatula, thanks to the absence of bones, It is perfect for creating gratin spatula cupcaere in the oven or tasty Parmigian. The GRATIN SPATULA, with Sicilian bread seasoned, Capers, lemon juice, it's prepared in white. The meat remains soft and juicy and is perfect both as a starter and as a second. For those who prefer red sauces, there's the PARMESAN SPATULA: eggplant and tomato sauce enriched with slices of spatula. In the same way you can also prepare swordfish parmesan.

Finally, a free variation of Sicilian spatula rolls: the SPATULA AND BACON ROLLS, taking advantage of the well-established combination of bacon and fish. Roasted grilled and served with salad or puntalle, I'm a second summer just amazing.

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