Sunday, June 20, 2010
Hobz Biz-Zejt u Tadam
I am somewhat surprised when I realise how few Maltese people know how to make proper, traditional Maltese Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam (translated literally to bread with oil and tomatoes). Sure, Kunserva is great, but it is NOT an ingredient in Hobz Biz Zejt when tomatoes are in season! That's "Hobz Bil Kunserva" and was traditionally only made in winter when fresh tomatoes were not available. Nowadays, Kunserva has crept into an "all year round" staple, and I have no issues with it. In fact, Kunserva is one of the few things i'd pack into my suitcase when heading back to Australia. It's delicious, sweet and packs a real tomato punch! fantastic! However Hobz biz-zejt is made with fresh tomatoes and is simply to die for! I've decided to take pics of what I had for lunch today to show you how it used to be done. Maltese friends, please try this at least once. The tomatoes are ripe and beautiful at this time of year, and for the next few months!
I found out recently that it's ideally made with a day old hobza, but I usually make it with fresh bread anyway.
- A day old Maltese loaf of "Hobz" or a fresh "Ftira" (I used Ftira today).
- Ripe red tomato - about one per "sandwich" sized piece of bread. The best are the flat ones that look like pumpkins, as they are very juicy, soft. I had "Zenguli", also known as Roma - the egg shaped ones.
- Some good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Not from a supermarket ideally hehe. I am using some cold first pressed oil my dad orders from this farm in Puglia. Maltese olive oil is fantastic, and worth the price. Only use it raw.
- Fresh black pepper, Seasalt (the rocky stuff, for the BURST of salty flavour)
- Fresh Basil. (some people use mint, which is an obvious remnant of our British Colonial days. Mint is great, but basil is better!)
Slice Bread thickly, or cut Ftira in half horizontally. I only made one piece so I cut a thick wedge out of the ftira. Before you cut the tomato in half, roll gently but firmly on the counter, to soften the flesh. Be careful not to split the tomato when doing this. Cut it in half horizontally, so that all the "pockets" of seeds are exposed. Rub the bread with the cut side of the tomato, squeezing the tomato gently whilst doing this, so that the bread is stained pink. In the height of summer, this will be much more pink! :D Put the tomatoes to the side.
Pour some olive oil onto the plate, and grind plenty of pepper and sprinkle generously with sea salt.
Dip each half of the bread into the oil, and pat together so that all the surface is evenly covered. You can use as little or as much oil as you like. the important bit is that it's good extra virgin olive oil.
Put tomatoes back on the bread and sprinkle with a little more salt/pepper to taste, and tear the basil leaves and chuck them on.
Great served with some Gbejniet (Maltese sheep/goat cheeselets), Tuna, Olives, Capers, rocket etc. Personally I love it "plain" or to have it like they used to in the past, serve it with a small glass of "black" red wine and a couple of anchovies (which used to be the staple rather than tuna back in the day).