Today I share with you a dish that is perfect for the sunny days of Spring, and can be enjoyed al fresco as well as indoors.  I This is an original recipe of mine, and I gave it a rather pretentious name: «Pavillon de la Mer».

The first ingredient of the dish is lightly cured bonito (lakerda), a fish in the tuna family. I gave the recipe for this wonderful fish back in 2008.  The only difference between then and now is that the fish is a lot smaller, and for this reason I fileted it before curing, rathern than cutting it across with the bone.

Lightly cured bonito (lakerda) filet

The second ingredient is a mix of vegetables. Carrots, coliflower, brocolli, and dill weed. Steam the vegetables for 10 minutes, let them cool off and then put in a blender.

The third ingredient is salted cod, or bacalao if you like (I like). After placing in cold water for at least 24 hours, I boil the fish in water with a just a little garlic.

The fourth ingredient is home made mayonnaise made with olive oil.

After 5 minutes in the boiling water, the cod is done. Remove from the pot and let it rest until lukewarm. Then mix thoroughly with the blended vegetables, and let the mix rest for at least 15 minutes.  After that, spoon in plenty of mayo and blend thoroughly.

Use a round open container to give the mix a cylindrical shape (a la pavillion), and place on top three fingers of the cured bonito. Finalize the simple layout of the dish with capers.

Enjoy with asyrtico white from Santorini.

Damianos Fish Tavern, Ambelas, island of Paros, Greece

Τρίτη, 12 Οκτωβρίου, 2010

A touch of the unforeseen landed me on the island of Paros for a short visit in October. The tourist season in Paros is very short, only three months, June, July, September. As a result in the first half of October the options for a decent meal to the visitor are limited.

Initially I wanted to go to Ventouris, a fish tavern I have enjoyed in the past, but as I have heard the tavern was closed. Instead, I opted for the fish tavern of Damianos, 100 meters from Ventouris. Here is my report.

The tavern is literally by the sea. However, the days before my arrival there were quite strong winds that prevented the fish boats from fishing. The result is that the fresh fish available was minimal (literally). When nature tries you you have to resort to the means by which man has been able to preserve food. In this case, salt curing provided the answer to the question: «what  do you recommend for today?»

Salt cured red mullet with garlic and rosemary

Manos brought to me the red mullet fillets that have been salt cured, then thoroughly cleaned from the salt and stored in olive oil, thin slices of garlic and rosemary. The taste was wonderful, intense, full of flavor, and the flesh juicy and firm. Eduardo, the Peruvian who has made Paros his home for the last 15 years, told me the story of the dish. It started from a village on the Peloponnese and was modified by Damianos, the owner of the tavern.

Salt cured sardines - frissa

The next delicacy was salt cured frissa, the large sardine fished in the waters of the Aegean.  Here what impressed me was the balance of the salty taste, and the moist flesh of the fish. One thing is obvious, Damianos knows how to salt cure fish!!!

Potatoes with onions and capers

The island of Naxos can be seen from Ambelas. It is less than 5 nautical miles away. Manos told me that they had received some nice potatoes from Naxos. they boiled them, dressed them with olive oil, and served with parsley, onions and capers which grow in abundance on Paros. I Was lucky to taste this dish, that in its simplicity was magnificent!!!! The flesh of the potato was sweet, soft and almost creamy. The combination with the onions and the capers was harmonious.

Vegetables

This dish of assorted vegetables came to partner with the main protein dish of the meal, chick peas!!! Chick peas  grown on the island of Paros are limited in quantities but delicious. They cook them in the oven with plenty of onions and herbs (mainly oregano). They are soft, tender, and have smoky flavor.

Chick peas

At the end, a simple and delicious local sweet, called «patsavouropita», literally translated as «rag-pie». It is made with fillo, and a mix of eggs, milk, flower, and a bit of lemon peel.

Eating is Damianos was a pleasure of discovery of the technique and joy of salt curing done with expertise and skill. But the potatoes with the onions and the capers topped the bill for me as the simplest and most flavorful dish. Talking to Eduardo after the meal, he promised to me that next time (assuming that fish and seafood will be available) he will prepare the original Peruvian cheviche. For those who have tasted the original Peruvian cheviche, this sounds like a very good reason for another quick visit to Paros. Thank you Eduardo, Manos, and Thodoris, for a wonderful meal and your hospitality.

Au revoir!

A couple of months ago, I posted a recipe for boiled grouper head with salad and vegetables, served with Greek Mayonnaise.

Today I present a variation of the dish, where I praise the green beans that are now in season in Greece.

The green beans come in many varieties, I prefer what we call «tsaoulia» in Greek. They are very long, have the shape of an elongated cylinder and when freshly cut are very tender. They need no preparation other than cutting the edges. The test I deploy before buying them is to break one in two pieces and smell it. If the aroma of the fresh flesh comes to you, we are in business!

I steam the beans, I do not boil them. You can notice that close to the brim of the pot there is another folding container with holes, which holds the beans. There is water in the pot, but only enough for it to create the required steam. The beans do not come in touch with the water. Also, the beans are as they came out of the field. I do not put any salt or other substance. For the purposes of taking the photo I uncovered the pot, but in order for the steam to do its work, the pot must be covered for the duration of the process.

Just do it this way and – if the beans are good – you will not want to put even salt on them!  You will taste the bean in its natural taste and flavor! And it is wonderful!

While the beans are being steamed, the fish head (usually grouper, but any big mother will do) is boiling in water, a bit of olive oil, dry onions, carrots, and celery. The unbeatable mix for creating a solid flavor baseline. I never boil the fish more than 20 minutes, because I want the flesh to be firm and juicy. It makes a huge difference in texture and flavor! The criterion for this is for the meat to «just» come off the bones, as if it is still lightly glued to them.

In parallel, I prepare the Greek Mayonnaise, which is a regular mayonnaise embellished with red fish roe, tarama, as we call it in Greek. the Greek Mayonnaise is therefore a cross between the French mayonnaise and the taramasalata, for those who know it. Try it and you will never have boiled fish without it!

To serve, you create a base with the beans, put the fish on top, sliced carrots around with parsley and dill, and sprinkle with olive oil and coarse sea salt. If you like lemon, add just a bit of lemon juice over the dish, to give it an extra kick of acidity. You finish the dish by putting a big dollop of the Greek Mayonnaise on top.

Enjoy it! Bon Appetit!

Late May in Greece and the continuum of space and time is broken.

You go to the beach and although the water is still rather cold, there are many ways to get warm inside your heart.

You then go for a stroll in the area and the smell of cooking foods arrest your senses.

In my case, I got so excited about all this that when my sister called me announcing that she had a lobster from Cyclades, I run to her house in almost zero time. (the more you want something, the more time is distorted – and with the distortion of time comes the degradation of senses and feelings).

Armirikia

The wonderful «armirikia», the greens growing near the sea, are the natural choice of a warm salad to start your meal. All you need is olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of sea salt.

Maridakia

The next dish is the wonderful «maridakia», small fish that is fried without any gutting or descaling. The absolute taste of the sea, must be eaten whole and enjoyed with ouzo. My sister fried them to perfection, and added to the dish a couple of seaweeds that were the highlight! I want to have fried seaweed now!

Lobster salad

The lobster came from the Cyclades, the islands complex in the center of the Aegean. I prepared the salad with the meat from the claws.

I started breaking the claws and pulling the meat out and the aromas of the sea made me forget that I wanted to take a picture!

In any case, I added lemon juice, olive oil, a spoonful of home made mayonnaise and parsley. the result was unforgettable!

I cannot ever describe the aromas and the texture of the claw meat. I surrender and declare my impotence.

Nature has defeated me in the most comprehensive way!

CREDITS

1. Thanks to Kelly and Natasha for bringing the freshness of  summer to the post.

2. Brava to my sister for sharing the delicacies with me.

Αγγιναρες! Το αγαπημενο μου ανοιξιατικο λαχανικο.

Τις βρηκα στη λαικη και τρελλαθηκα (και που να ητανε και απο την Τηνο!).

Βρηκα και υπεροχα μυρωνια, οποτε αποφασισα να μαγειρεψω τις αγγιναρες με τα μυρωνια.

Εχω ετοιμασει εδω και καιρο στο σπιτι λεμονια σε αλμη, οποτε θα χρησιμοποιησω και τον φλοιο τους που ειναι γεματος αρωματα.

Η ετοιμασια ειναι απλη. Καθαριζουμε καλα τις αγγιναρες, και τα κοτσανια, που ειναι νοστιμωτατα, και μετα μπλουμ στην κατσαρολα με φρεσκο κρεμμυδακι, ανιθο, τον φλοιο του λεμονιου, τα μυρωνια, τα καροτα και τις πατατες, αλατι πιπερι και χυμο λεμονι οσο χρειαζεται για να «ξυνισει».

Το φαγητο αυτο για να γινει χρειαζεται περιπου 40 λεπτα σε μετρια φωτια.

Σερβιρουμε και απολαμβανουμε.

Σαν ορεκτικο επελεξα ηπιως αλιπαστο γαυρο με νοτματα, κρεμμυδι, μαιντανο και λεμονι, σε ενα στρωματακι πιτας για σουβλακι.

Today’s dish is fresh and simple, with the flavors of the spring and the sea.

After all the meat eating of the Easter celebration, I wanted to taste something simple and yet tasteful.

I found a wonderful octopus in my fisherman, and I immediately decided to use it in my dish.

I put the octopus in a pot with a couple of bay leafs on very low heat, cover it  and let it cook for a couple of hours. You do not need to put any water in,  the octopus has plenty of water, and it comes out nicely as the heat is very gentle, it almost caresses the flesh.

While the octopus is cooking gently and slowly, I prepared a melange of chopped zucchinis and eggplants, parsley and a bit of dried chili pepper.

I put all the vegetables in a big pan with browned onions and added some of the octopus liquids. After 15 minutes I added cherry tomatoes for extra flavor.

Serve the vegetables in a way that forms a hexagonal bed and on top place slices of the octopus. Finish the dish with a spoonful of the vegetables.

It is a light, wonderful dish that goes very well with a nice glass of chardonnay. Enjoy!

Melange with Anchovies – Συνθεση με γαυρο

Σάββατο, 13 Μαρτίου, 2010

Today I will cook a melange with one my favorite small fish, the anchovy (gavros in Greek).

The idea of the recipe came to me as a variation of the patties I have described in another post.

The first step is to get the most fresh anchovy you can find and fillet it.

Second step is to get the best onions, and fresh garlic, and chop them. You need a lot of onions, as they will form the body of the melange.

Add one chopped tomato to the mix, a bit of cardamon, and fennel. Season with salt, chilli flakes, a bit of olive oil, and squeeze one lemon over it.

I get hungry only by looking at the mix, as it stands, there, waiting to be cooked.The last step is to add a bit of flour, just to give the mix a binding agent.

Getting to the cooking now, it is quite simple. Pour the mix over a baking dish that has been oiled, and bake in 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes.

The true sign of being ready is to see in the baking dish the colors of Rembrandt’s palette. Earthy, browns, dark reds, ocher, a bit of white.

Serve very hot, over crispy potato cubes.

The melange is very soft in its texture, but the bouquet of flavors is complex and powerful.

The soft texture of the melange is contrasted by the crispy texture of the potato cubes, whose flavor is mild, thus comforting the palate that is bombarded by the melange.

I strongly recommend to have ouzo with this dish, or asyrtico white wine. Enjoy!

PS. I dedicate this creation to my dear friend Yanna, whose imperfections include her being a supporter of Olympiacos Football Club, known in the World as «GAVROI – the anchovies».

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