March 25th commemorates the official start date of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire which began in 1821.
March 25th coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation (Evangelismos) of the Virgin Mary, also known as “Lady Day” in the Western liturgical year; it commemorates the visit of Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary along with the joyful news of the imminent birth of Christ, the Son of God.
No wonder why it is by far the most important national holiday for Greece!
And what do people do when they celebrate? Yes, you guessed that right, they share the food and dance!
Traditionally, Greeks eat fried hake (bakaliaros), accompanied with a garlic puree called “skordalia”.
For garlic lovers and the fans of Meditteranean cuisine, skordalia is a real gem. Simple and tasty, it is an all-year-round super food served at room temperature or cold fresh from the fridge on a hot summer day.
The combination of skordalia with fried hake is what Greek foodies believe to make the best match for many decades; and there is a good chance they are right, as chefs around the world create their own versions of this iconic recipe.
Here follows a traditional greek version of the recipe straight from our giagia’s (grandma) handbook.
⏰ preparation time: 30-45min 📊 difficulty level: easy!
Ingredients (for Bakaliaros)
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 MALVA EVOO and sunflower oil for frying
Ingredients (for Skordalia)
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.
Tip: A handy recipe for skordalia – only, is available here.
Continue with Bakaliaros:
✅ After you’ve sufficiently soaked your salted hake, dry with a kitchen cloth o paper towel and cut into small portions.
✅ Season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and set aside.
✅ Add the flour and the corn starch into a bowl and mix with a fork.
✅ As you whisk, gradually add the beer to the mixture until you get a middle-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 from both sides (👆starting with the skin side facing the bottom of the pan first), until the fish reaches a golden brown color and place when ready on a plate with a paper towel placed at the bottom to soak the burnt oil and another on top to dry out excessive humidity 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, Skordalia with olives on top, and accompany with boiled green amaranth or boiled beetroots with their leaves.
💡Add lemon juice and olive oil on top of all preparations should you feel like this matches your personal taste.
Bakaliaros Skordalia is one of the most simple Truly Greek, traditional recipes, and the one Greeks prepare to celebrate March 25th, The Greek Independence Day. Def a must-try!
Did you know?
Why fish? Why hake?
Hake is certainly not a Mediterranean fish and is mostly found in the Northeastern Atlantic waters. It is a “heavy-duty” fish because it is cheap and easy to preserve; when salted it can be stored for long times and travel even longer distances.
March 25th is a religious holiday as old as Greek Orthodoxy, as long as the history of Christianity itself. The fish is a Christian symbol since day one, and so is the custom of eating fresh fish on that special day.
The Greek Orthodox Christians ever since, are called on a break from their 40-day Lenten fast, and are welcome to eat fresh fish, olive oil, and consume wine.
During the 15th century, Greeks were under-occupancy by the Ottomans. Access to fresh fish was difficult, especially from the mainland. The hake came on the table as Greeks were not able to have fresh fish, and had to buy cheaper, salted fish alternatives. Ever since the hake has constituted the March 25th dish of the Greek Orthodox community.
Why garlic pate?
Well, people realized by experience that hake/codfish increases blood pressure while garlic decreases it! The combination of the two maintains food balance and stands up for healthy eating and the “we are what we eat” doctrine.
They added potatoes to garlic (the best by all means ingredient to turn food into mash poure’, potatoes are tasty …and cheap ), plus the almighty food of the foods, EVOO, to add to the final result the necessary liquidity, nutritional value, and, of course, …taste!
This is really what the Mediterranean diet is all about after all:
A balanced, healthy, useful, and needless to say tasty way to enjoy food.
The best way most believe 🙌
Are you still here with us? A Surprise Gift is Waiting for You to celebrate this special day together💙