On holiday long ago in the Florida Keys, I was offered dolphinfish in a restaurant. The waiter laughed when he saw how the ‘d’ word had alarmed me – I’d be a hopeless poker player. He then explained the dish didn’t contain a marine mammal, but a fish that’s also known as mahi-mahi, which we ate in the Caribbean. You may also see it on menus as golden mackerel.
This fish – known as dorado in Spanish and locally as llampuga – comes into Mallorcan waters in the late summer and early autumn. Its arrival coincides with the end-of-summer storms that start to cool the island after the high heat of August. The name llampuga means lightning, which seems appropriate.
Mallorca’s season for fishing llampuga is officially from late August until the end of the year, although it’s often hard to find on fish counters once the end of November comes. The boats that fish for llampuga are limited to a daily maximum catch of 150kg.
Cala Ratjada in the northeast of Mallorca is the port most associated with this seasonal fish, and it traditionally hosts an autumn fair over a weekend – Fira de la Llampuga – dedicated to it. This year the usual fair was cancelled because of concerns about coronavirus among visitors who congregate in the port. But the town held a tapas route – La Ruta de Tapes de Llampuga – on October 10th instead, in which bars and restaurants showcased the versatility of the fish by offering tapas featuring llampuga.
Cooking With Llampuga
Mallorcans have a favourite way of using lightning fish in the kitchen, in a dish called llampuga amb pebrots vermells. Thick slices of the fish are fried and served with a rich tomato sauce topped with fried red peppers. You’ll see it often at this time of year on traditional mallorquín restaurants’ menus. Do give it a try if you like fish.
British chef Marc Fosh, whose eponymous Palma restaurant has a Michelin star, offered some recipes and advice on cooking this seasonal fish in one of his Majorca Daily Bulletin columns last year; check out the link for some ideas.
©Jan Edwards 2021