Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bakaliarakia Tiganita kai Skordalia me Kappari--Fried Whiting with a Caper Skordalia

I'm lucky to have children who love to eat fish. Even luckier, I believe, that fish in New York is pretty inexpensive and pretty fresh. Family favorites such as Red Snapper (Synagrida) run between $6.99 and $7.99 a pound while Porgies (Tsipoures) and Sardines (Sardela) can be found for $2.99 a pound.

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.

Bakaliarakia Tiganita--Fried Whiting

2 1/2 pounds small Whiting, cleaned
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Oil for frying

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.


gastroanthropologist said...

The fish do look super fresh, especially looking into their eyes! The Skordalia sounds delicious and a perfect accompaniment to fried fish. I love the greek sides and sauces!

Betty's Cuisine said...

mmm bakaliaros me skordalia! to kalytero mou!!! bravo Maria, very nice presentation and great photos, too.

Ivy said...

Maria I've never heard of whiting before. I looked it up in the dictionary and it says (το ψάρι:) μερλούγγιος. Is it the same with cod? Whatever it is, it looks delicious, especially with skordalia.

We Are Never Full said...

oh i absolutely love this type of meal. it reminds me a bit of how i love eating anchovies in genoa, italy or parts of spain. simple, crunchy and delish.

Peter G said...

Good tips for frying the fish...I def need some help in this area. I also love that skordalia made with capers...great thinking! said...

Do the kids love the skordalia as much as the fish? I'm so pleased that my kids love fish too!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

we have bakaliarakia regularly (but they are off-season at the moment in greece) - i refer to them as european hake (as nancy does in

they are my favorite fish after koutsomoura (sometimes referred to as blunt-nosed red mullet or goatfish)

♥Rosie♥ said...

It really is good that your children eat fish and your fish and Skordalia looks delicious!!

Shopaholic said...

Glad to hear your kids love fish and not scare the bones : ) I suppose. Your fish recipe is very unique, nice to get some ideas of how to prepare smaller fishes. Janet @Gourmet Traveller88

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Hola Maria. My daughter absolutely loves garlic mashed potatoes. I've tried making them for her before but she keeps telling me something is missing. I'm going to try your recipe and see if I can hit the mark. Thanks sweetie. Have a great weekend.

Ali said...

I adore Skordalia! One of my all-time favorite dishes is served at place in Philadelphia called Dmitri's. It's fried smelts with skordalia. I could eat a whole basket alone! yum. These Bakaliarakia look fabulous!


pixen said...

I'm now in Athens and trying to find my favourite Red Mullet. Few days ago the temperature was 40 ºC that I didn't went out at all :-( Hope to find them next week :-) I will try using the whitting as well :-)

Joanne said...

This fish DOES look fresh! Where do you go in NY for cheaper fish? I am trying to find a good market.

Peter M said...

I seem to always skip over the whitings and I really should fry them up as you have.

That crust looks awesome...your kids better watch out, I might eat their portions!

Maria said...

Ivy--all the shops here in New York label these fish as Whiting in English and Bakaliarakia in Greek. And when my mother in law was here from Greece last year she too knew them as bakaliarakia. They have the same meaty texture as large cod just on a smaller scale.

Joanne--when we lived in Astoria I shopped for fish at a place in LIC (either 34th or 35th street and 36th Ave. -- just two blocks from the N/W train) and now I frequent a shop in Whitestone, Queens.