Bakaliaros Tighanitos me Skordalia
This preparation is popular everywhere in Greece. A nearly identical preparation of batter-fried salt cod is made in Genoa called baccalà all’aglio, or frisciêu (fritter) in the local Genoese dialect. And the Genoese also have a garlic sauce reminiscent of the Greek skordalia derived from the old garlic sauce called agliata, that has its origins in the aïoli of Marseilles (and the allioli of Barcelona). In the Greek version of the garlic sauce, the thickening agent is potato while in versions from the western Mediterranean, a panada (a moistened bread mixture) is also not uncommon for thickening the garlic sauce. Although Genoese mercantile companies played a role in medieval Greece, we don’t know if the similarity of these culinary preparations is due to that contact or if it is merely serendipitous. This recipe comes from the To Meltemi taverna in Methóni, known as Modon in the Middle Ages when it was a major Venetian naval station. It was excellent and quite nice with French fries too.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
1. Place the salt cod in a large skillet filled with water, slowly bring the water to just under a boil, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove carefully with a spatula and drain the salt cod well. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, make a thin batter with the flour, water, baking powder, and salt. In a medium-size skillet, heat the olive oil with the crushed garlic over medium-high heat until the garlic just begins to turn light brown. Remove and discard the garlic. Continue heating the oil until it is about 370 degrees F, using a quick-read thermometer.
3. Dip each salt cod piece in the batter, let the excess drip off, and place in the hot oil, not more than two pieces at a time, until golden, about 2 minutes per side, turning with long tongs so the oil doesn’t splash. Remove, squirt a few drops of lemon juice on each, and serve with warm skordalia. Let the frying oil cool completely, strain, and save for a future use.