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Bakaliaros (Battered-Fried Salted Cod) with Skordalia (Garlic Sauce)

Battered Bakaliaros (salted cod), in Greek “μπακαλιάρος”, is the traditional food eaten in Greece on the 25th of March. This Greek traditional dish has become synonymous with the day that celebrates the Annunciation of Virgin Mary as well as the celebration of the Revolution against the Turks in 1821.

How did we come to prepare this dish? The 25th of March is always in the period of the Great Lent when the Orthodox fast for nearly fifty days. No meat, no fish, no dairy products and sometimes no olive oil are permitted. The Church made two exceptions though: one is on the 25th of March and the other on Palm Sunday when only fish can be consumed.

For people living near the shores, they ate fresh fish on both these occasions, but people in remote mountain villages could not, as there were no refrigeration trucks to transport fish! So when salted Vakalaos or Bakaliaros (Cod) was imported, many years ago, it was ideal, not only for lent but for other days as well. It was cheap as well and could be preserved for long periods.

Try Bakaliaros coated with beer batter and then fried and you will have the most crispy and delicious cod ever! The basic secret for the batter is ice-cold water and beer, which help so that the fried pieces of fish do not absorb too much oil, which could lead to “sticky” results. Corn flour produces a crispy and light crust to the cod and the meringue makes it fluffier. If you are fasting you can replace egg white with baking powder. You will find that you won’t be able to resist devouring more and more bites! 

Skordalia with Potatoes

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time:  30 minutes

Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients:

3 potatoes boiled, preferably with skin on

 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, depending on how strong you like it

 1/2 tsp salt

 Freshly ground black pepper

 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

 1/4 cup wine vinegar or lemon juice

Directions:

In a food processor or a blender, puree garlic with 1/3rd of the olive oil or use a pestle and mortar and puree the garlic with the salt (without the olive oil).

Boil the potatoes until soft.  Remove from the pot and under running tap water peel them.

Transfer them to a bowl and mash them with a fork or a potato masher.  They do not need to be completely pureed.

 Add the olive oil while the potatoes are still warm, the garlic puree and salt, if using the first method, or garlic paste, pepper and mix well.  Add vinegar or lemon juice gradually, taste and adjust.

 Set aside to cool.

Serve at room temperature.

Note:

The garlic flavor will become stronger as it cools.

If you do not like garlic, use roasted garlic instead, for a milder taste.

Before serving drizzle some more olive oil on top and decorate with an olive or finely chopped parsley or finely chopped spring onion.

 

Bakaliaros (Battered-Fried Salt Cod)

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time:  30 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 kilo (2.20 lbs) salted cod fillet**

Olive oil for frying

**How to desalt cod: Cut the cod into portions, remove skin, rinse to remove salt and place in a bowl and cover with water. If cod is not a fillet make sure to remove all the bones. Drain and change the water every 3 – 4 hours for at least 24 hours before preparing.

For the batter:

1 tbsp lemon juice

 (75 grams (about 1 1/2) egg whites (or replace with 1 tbsp baking powder)

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ cup corn flour (corn starch)

one cup beer (or 2/3 cup beer and 1/3 cup water)

½ tsp salt

A pinch of white pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fennel fronds (finely chopped) optional

Directions:

Cut the cod into portions, remove skin and place in a bowl and cover with water.  If cod is not a fillet make sure to remove all the bones.

Drain and change water every 3 – 4 hours for at least 24 hours before cooking.

Drain the cod and squeeze out any excess water.

Beat one egg white into meringue.

In a bowl add the flour, corn flour, (baking powder instead of egg white), salt and pepper, fennel fronds, the beer, the olive oil and lemon juice and start mixing adding the water gradually, until you have a thick batter.   Do not add all the water, as you may not need all of it.

Mix in the egg white and place the batter in the refrigerator for one hour.

Dip the cod into the batter and fry on both sides in hot frying oil**.

Drain on kitchen paper.

**The frying oil can be any kind of vegetable oil but I personally prefer olive oil, since it has a very high smoke point, so that it doesn’t burn even at high cooking temperatures, and it retains all of its healthy properties and brings out the true flavors of the food. Hot olive oil does not penetrate food during the cooking process as readily as some other types of oils, which results in a lower fat content in the finished dish.

 

About Ivy Liacopoulou

Ivy is a Greek-Cypriot food blogger, author and teacher now living in Nafplion, Greece. Her passion for cooking started by watching her mother cook in the family kitchen back in Cyprus. She launched her website “Kopiaste… to Greek Hospitality” in 2007 and hasn’t stopped sharing her culinary talents ever since. She has also authored two cookbooks, “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste” and “More than a Greek Salad”.

Learn more about Ivy, order her books and find other great recipes:
www.kopiaste.org

Cypriots say “kopiaste” when they want to invite someone in their house, to share our food with others or when they open their house to friends and invite them to come and make themselves at home.

16 Mar 2017, by Politismos Museum of Greek History in Gastronomyx