I went to the fish market yesterday intent on buying Barbounia (Red Mullet, which were $6.99 a pound) as we hadn't had these tasty little fish in a long while. But when I got to the store, I quickly snapped up the smaller Bakaliarakia (Whitings) that I know the kids really enjoy. And at just $2.99 a pound, these tasty little fish were definitely a steal.
Almost all Greek tavernas around New York--and there are A LOT of them--feature fried bakaliarakia (whiting) on their menus. They serve these small but meaty fish with some garlicky skordalia and the dish is a favorite among most patrons.
As such, it was only natural that I fry our bakaliarakia yesterday and serve them with some skordalia. It's an easy enough dish without much hullabaloo but there are a few cooking points I'd like to note:
- I find that when frying my fish, double-dipping it (i.e. in egg, then flour, then egg again and finally flour again) creates a much nicer crust.
- Season your flour well with your choice of seasonings but also season your fish with salt and pepper before dipping.
- When frying anything, heat your oil really well--you will never get a crisp, well-browned crust if your oil is not hot enough the second your fish touches it.
- As your fish finishes cooking, place it on paper towels to drain to keep the crust from getting soggy.
I served our bakaliarakia with some skordalia (garlicky mashed potato/bread) that I updated a bit by adding some chopped capers to. The tangy capers provided a great dimension of flavor and went well with the fish.
Note: I like to make my skordalia by simply mashing the ingredients with a fork as opposed to blending everything in a food processor--I just like the chunky texture as opposed to the smooth, sometimes elastic texture this dip gets when blended by the processor.
Wash the fish well with water; pat dry and season with some salt and pepper. Heat about an inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Combine flour, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper on a large plate. Place the eggs in another plate. Begin dipping the fish in egg, then dredge it in the flour (making sure to shake off the excess), dip it again into the egg then give it one final dredging in the flour. Place it directly into the hot oil and fry just a few minutes on each side until well browned. Remove fish to a dish lined with paper towels and serve warm along with some skordalia, a salad and some crusty bread.
Skordalia me Kappari--Caper Skordalia
2 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and boiled until tender
2 slices of white bread, crusts removed
1 large clove of garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped capers
Drain potatoes well and place them in a large bowl. Begin mashing the potatoes with a fork and then set aside until somewhat cooled.
wet the bread with some water or milk and squeeze out any excess. Add it to the potatoes along with the garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar and stir and mash the mixture with a fork until well combined. Begin adding some oil in a steady stream stirring constantly. Once you've added enough oil to reach your desired consistency, stir in the chopped capers.
Allow the skordalia to sit for a while, then serve with fried fish, fried eggplant/zucchini slices or some fresh bread.