This dish is traditionally made on 25th March, a national holiday in Greece, firstly to mark the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Evangelismos), and secondly for historical reasons: it commemorates the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821 - the Greek's resistance against nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule. It is also one of the only two days during Greek Lent ('Saracosti') when strict fasters can eat fish - due to it being a double celebration.
This recipe for the salt cod croquettes 'keftedes' comes with many thanks to my Greek mother-in-law, Maria, from the Peloponnese where salt cod is particularly popular, not only on 25th March but throughout the year. Her croquettes have the batter inside (incorporated with the fish) and not on the outside as one might expect. Not the lightest of dishes, but certainly tasty. The garlic sauce 'skordalia' ('skordo' means garlic) is hers too. Sometimes potatoes are used, as here, sometime mashed bread.
To remove some of the salt the cod needs to be soaked for 1 to 2 days (depending on how salty the fish is and how salty you like it). Rinse the fish then place in a large bowl or pan and cover with cold water. Change the water 4 to 8 times during the soaking process.
(Serves 4 - 6)
Pre-soak the salt cod as described above.
To make the garlic sauce, peel the potatoes, put in a pan and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to the boil. Continue to cook until soft enough to mash up into a very smooth puree (you can use a hand blender if you like).
Add all the other ingredients and blend until well combined.
For the croquettes, drain the previously soaked fish, skin and debone.
For how to skin and debone a fish in general see the link below:
Break the fish into small (about 1 cm) pieces by hand.
Sieve the flour into a bowl and add enough water when mixing to make a stiff and slightly sticky batter. Add the fish, and the dill or mint if using, to the batter and mix together to combine.
Pour olive oil into a large frying pan to a depth of about 1 cm and heat until medium hot. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil,
and cook until lightly brown underneath before turning to cook on the other side.
Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Serve the croquettes hot or warm accompanied by the cold garlic sauce.
Kali Sacarosti (Happy Lent!).
Tags: salt cod bakaliaros skordalia garlic sauce 25th March Greek recipes Mediterranean recipes
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