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The Greek Recipe for Hake (Bakaliaros) and Skordalia Eaten on March 25th

Bakaliaros Skordalia
Bakaliaros (hake) with Skordalia. Credit: Flickr / Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY 2.0 DEED

Greeks eat bakaliaros (hake) and skordalia on March 25th, the most important national holiday for Greece.

The day coincides with the feast of the Annunciation (Evangelismos) of the Virgin Mary, a day on which, traditionally, Greeks eat fried hake accompanied with a garlic puree called skordalia.

The reason behind this tradition is that apart from the national holiday, March 25th is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, making for a joyful celebration in the midst of the 40-day Lenten fast, when the Greek Orthodox faithful are allowed to eat fish and oil and consume wine.

Hake is cheap and easy to preserve

The explanation behind the specific choice of fish is very simple and comes from decades ago, when mainland Greeks were not able to have fresh fish on this day and had to buy cheaper, salted fish.

Despite the fact that hake is not a Mediterranean fish, as it is mostly found in the waters of the Northeastern Atlantic, the fish can be cured; therefore it is cheap and easy to preserve.

Hake made its appearance on Greek tables at some point in the fifteenth century, and ever since has constituted the dish of the Greek Orthodox on March 25th, later becoming a national dish as well.

Recipe for Bakaliaros (hake) and skordalia

Lakonia Imports, a site dedicated to Greek food recipes, recommends the traditional way to prepare the dish:

Ingredients (for hake)

approx. 1lb. of salt hake/cod fillets (soaked & water changed 3-4 times within 24 hrs – until saltiness is reduced)
1 bottle of beer or soda water
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of corn starch
flour for dredging
olive oil and sunflower oil for frying

Ingredients (for Skordalia)

180gr olive oil
700gr potatoes (peeled and cut into pieces)
3 cloves of garlic
40ml white vinegar
1 ts coarse salt
salt, pepper

To serve:

Fresh parsley chopped, Spring onions chopped, Almonds or Walnuts, olive oil, Olives.

Start with Skordalia:

  • In a pot of boiling water add the coarse salt and the chopped potatoes.
  • Boil until they soften.
  • In a food processor, add olive oil, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Beat until smooth.
  • When your potatoes are ready, transfer them to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher.
  • Add the garlic oil and stir to incorporate.
  • Cover with food wrap and put in the fridge if you plan to serve much later in the day.

Continue with hake:

  • After you’ve sufficiently soaked your salted hake, dry with a kitchen cloth or paper towel and cut into small portions.
  • Season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and set aside.
  • Put the flour and the corn starch in a bowl and mix with a fork.
  • As you whisk, gradually add the beer to the mixture until you get a medium-thick batter (use soda water instead, if you want to avoid the sour-ish effect of the beer’s yeast).
  • Fill your frying pan with the oil (use 50% olive oil and 50% sunflower oil till you reach about 2 inches of depth, should be enough for a flip-sides-once frying technique), and heat up to 350 – 370F.
  • Dip your chopped fillets in the butter and place them immediately but smoothly in the pan to start frying.
  • Fry in batches for a couple of minutes on both sides (starting with the skin side down) until the fish reaches a golden brown color, and place when ready on a plate between paper towels (to soak up the burnt oil and any excess water, and keep the final result crispy).

Tip: Place the butter mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes before using it for a more crispy result!

To serve, sprinkle sea salt on the fish fillets, serve with lemon and skordalia with olives on top, and accompany with boiled green amaranth or boiled beetroots with their leaves.

Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil if desired.

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