• On special occasions, Sal De Luca would enjoy cheesy, sweet seadas with Mirto liqueur. (Sal De Luca)Source: Sal De Luca
Seadas is a crisp Italian pastry that's hard to describe. For third-generation gelato-maker Sal De Luca, it tastes like a welcome home.
By
Pilar Mitchell

10 Jun 2020 - 12:06 PM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2020 - 2:32 PM

--- Catch Ainsley Harriott devour a seada or three on Ainsley's Mediterranean Cookbook, 8.30pm Sundays on SBS Food or stream it on SBS On Demand ---

 

“I grew up on the Costa Smeralda in the northeast of Sardinia. If you search for photos, you’ll probably wonder why my family left,” says Sal De Luca, who currently runs Cremeria De Luca in Five Dock, in Sydney's inner west.

Life was idyllic on the Mediterranean island and De Luca remembers a childhood spent alongside his parents at work and at the beach. His dad, Luigi, ran a home furnishings shop as well as a gelato shop, while mum, Gavina, worked for an Italian airline. “My mum’s office was in the same building as our apartment. At lunch, we’d pop down to Pittulongu beach to have a splash. Then she’d go back to work and I’d have a nap.”

Holidays were often in Sicily with his father's family and memories were punctuated by the sounds of the street vendors driving down the road in auto-rickshaws, peddling their wares. The vendors sold everything from snacks, like roasted chestnuts and granita, to household goods, like brooms and cleaning products.

Sal de Luca and his mother share some seadas.

“My aunt had a top-floor apartment and when she’d hear the sellers riding along in their tuk-tuks screaming out ‘Castagna! Granita!’ she’d send me down with a basket and a couple of lira.”

Sicily is also where the first of three generations of De Lucas began selling gelato.

From 1937, nonno Salvatore De Luca drove a three-wheeled Vespa Ape truck around the streets of Messina selling hand-churned gelato and granita in the summer. In the winter, he offered hot chocolate that was so thick, it had to be spooned from the cup.

Luigi followed in nonno’s footsteps selling Sicilian gelato and granita in Sardinia and eventually Australia where he consulted with gelato brands before opening his own shops in Leichhardt, then Bondi. His son Sal then launched Cremeria De Luca in Five Dock, where it's been a neighbourhood institution since 2013.

As this descendant of gelato-makers spends his days serving the creamy dessert from silver-domed pozzetti, perhaps it makes sense that he’d long for food that’s more novel and rare.

“On special occasions, my mum would whip up pane carasau [Sardinian flatbread], zuppa gallurese, a lamb broth-based casserole dish, and malloreddus, which are saffron-infused gnocchetti in a pork sausage and mushroom red sauce,” De Luca says. “We’d finish with seadas, this zesty, honey, cheese pastry that we’d pair with Mirto liqueur.”

Describing seadas is tricky, even for one familiar with the dish. “It’s a delightfully crunchy, yet soft, tart-then-sweet dessert. It sounds strange,” he trails off.

“I can’t really think of anything else I’ve eaten that’s similar. It’s got the crunchy consistency of a toasted dumpling. Imagine that with cheese inside and honey on top.”

Making seadas starts with semolina and 00 flours, mixed and then worked through with butter or lard and water. The pastry dough is rolled out thin, like lasagne sheets, and stuffed like ravioli.

“I can’t really think of anything else I’ve eaten that’s similar. It’s got the crunchy consistency of a toasted dumpling. Imagine that with cheese inside and honey on top.”

“Young pecorino cheese or a slightly acidic cheese and lemon zest makes up the filling,” he says. “The dish pays homage to Sardinia’s pastoral heritage where a lot of sheep’s milk cheese was available. If you can’t get young pecorino, scamorza, peretta or even grated mozzarella from your local supermarket will do.”

The cheese is sandwiched between two layers of pastry and each pocket is cut into a circle. Air is pushed out before sealing the edges with a fork. Each pocket is fried to achieve a nicely bubbled shell, but it’s important to spoon oil over the top, rather than flip the seadas. “After frying, we glaze it in hot honey in another pan, and serve it hot. Always hot,” he says.

For De Luca, seadas was a special dish reserved for Christmas with family, or for homecomings. “When I lived away [from] home and I’d come back to visit, I’d ask for seadas. We don’t serve it that often because we want to keep it special. It’s like a 'welcome home' dish.”

 


Seadas

Ingredients

  • 90 g semolina flour
  • 150 g Type 00 flour
  • 60 g lard or unsalted butter
  • 85 ml cold water, or as needed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 280 g young pecorino cheese, cut into small cubes or coarsely grated
  • 1-2 lemons, to taste
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • Sunflower or peanut oil for frying
  • 200 g honey (preferably orange honey)

1. Combine the two flours in a bowl. Add the lard or butter, the water and a pinch of salt. Knead the dough by hand until it comes together. Form a ball on a floured work surface, wrap with plastic wrap and leave to rest while completing the next step.
2. Meanwhile, dice or grate the cheese and place it in a bowl. Zest the lemon(s) and marinade the zest with the juice of the lemon and sugar.
3. Roll out the dough to a rectangular shape with a thickness of about 2 mm, or use a pasta maker to roll out long, wide lengths of dough. Use a round container or metal ring about 10 cm in diameter to press circles along the length of the dough – similar to making ravioli.
4. Spoon the cheese mixture into the centre of each circle. Cover the pastry with a second sheet, sandwiching the cheese mixture between the two. Gently press the dough around the filling. This is very important to remove excess air.
5. Take the mould and cut each seadas into a circle. Remove the excess dough and press down edges with the tip of a fork for a rustic look and to make sure they are sealed.
6. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat and, once hot, place the seadas in the oil no more than two at a time. Use a spoon or ladle to spoon the oil over the seadas in a circular motion. This will help to create bubbles on the surface. Do not flip the seadas. Remove the pastries when they are golden brown and drain excess oil.
7. In a separate pan, add the honey over medium heat. Once the honey begins bubbling, coat the seadas in the honey one by one and plate individually. Enjoy with a glass of Mirto.

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