Palamut Baligi Pilakisi / Bonito Pilaki


  • 2 large bonito
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 medium celeriac
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sugar
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 medium onions
  • 8-10 parsley stalks
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 mild chili peppers


(Serves 6)

Scrape the carrots and divide in half, then slice thinly. Peel the patatoes, divide in four, and dice, then place in water to prevent them discolouring. Pell the celeriac and dice like the patato, then place in the water mixed with a teaspoon of flour and half a lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Peel the garlic and slice finely. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and dice.
Heat the olive oil in a soucepan, add the onions and garlic, and stir until softened. Add the carrots, stir over the heat for a couple more minutes and then add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes have released their juice, add 4 cups of warm water and cover. Simmer until the carrots have begun to soften, and add the patatoes and celeriac, salt, sugar and bay leaves. Tie the parsley stalks into a bunch with thread and add to the pan (these add flavour and can easily be removed before serving). When all the vegetables are tender but not mushy, remove from the heat. Spread half the vegetables in a large baking tray or oven dish.
If the fishmonger has not filetted the bonito follow the istructions in the note at the bottom of this page. You can also have it cut crossways into 2 cm. slices (there is no need to remove the back bone for the latter). Lay the fillets over the vegetables, and spread the remaining vegetable mixture over the top. Squeeze half a lemon and sprinkle the juice over. Finish with slices of pepper (the seeds removed). Wet and squeeze a sheet of graseproof paper (cut to fit inside the tray or dish) and cover. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Remove the bunch of parsley stalks before serving.
A little freshly ground black pepper may be sprinkled over before serving.

NOTE If you are preparing the fish yourself, first cut off the heads with a sharp knife, then placing the end of the knife between the bones on one side, run it carefully down to the tail, feeling the backbone all the way. Then with your hands gently pull away the to fillets. Repeat on the other side.

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