Maltese traditional recipe: Aljotta (fish soup)

Aljotta (Photographs have been taken by Matthew Cauchi and food has been cooked at Gululu restaurant by Neville Gauci)

This is a very tasty soup if the right fish are used. Once again a poor woman’s dish so the cheaper smaller fish which cannot be put to much other use are usually used.



  • 2 kilos of assorted small fish (like scorpion fish, rock fish, tub fish, and red mullet and if you can get hold of a small eel that would be great.If you are cooking fishing as a main course keep the heads and tail for the Aljotta stock too.) 
  • 1/2 kg peeled tomatoes
  • 2 dl/1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Parsley
  • Marjoram
  • 1 cup of rice, if you want to make a meal of it.


  1. Simmer the garlic lightly in the olive oil, add the marjoram sprigs to infuse the oil. Add all the fish and give it a light fry around then top the pot up with water and let simmer very slowly for a couple of hours at least. When the liquid takes colour and begins to reduce add the chopped tomatoes, parsley and salt and pepper and leave to simmer further. Taste the soup and when flavourful drain all into another pot straining this through a a muslin cloth –you musn’t let the little bones get away as these will end up in your mouth when drinking the soup and ruin the pleasure.
  2. Pick what meat you can off the fish – again be careful not to pick any bones – and add to the soup. If you want to make a mesl of this then add the rice and cook on a low flame until done. A sueeze of lemon before serving adds a lovely zesty kick to the Aljotta.

* Scorpion and “tub fish” are just two varieties that can be used in this soup.  It all depends on your personal preferences.  It is important to use fish that are about the same size; if you use large fish, it is better to cut them into pieces.

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