Tradition calls for Greeks, every year on the anniversary of March 25th, to have fried cod coated with beer batter (aka Bakaliaros) paired with a garlic dip (aka Skordalia). The 25th of March is a National holiday and besides the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, Greeks celebrate the Annunciation by archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she should become the mother of Jesus Christ the Son of God. In order to make it a joyful celebration amongst the 40-day fast, the church allows fish, oil and wine to be consumed. Mind that during Lent, the Church allows the faithful to eat fish only twice, on Annunciation and Palm Sunday.
The explanation behind the specific choice of fish has to do mainly with the inability of the inhabitants of the inland to have fresh and cheap fish. Despite the fact that cod is not a “Greek” fish, as it is usually found in the shores of North Atlantic, the fish can be cured, therefore making it cheap and easy to preserve.
Try this recipe. This beer batter with a little bit of ouzo will make your cod crispy and very delicious. Save the recipe to use on other kinds of fish fillets, or if you want to prepare fried vegetables (zucchinis, eggplants etc.).
Hands on: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
For the frying batter
260 g all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
330 ml beer (cold)
2 ice cubes
For the fish
Sunflower oil for frying
2 big Cod fillets (boneless)
How to do it
1. In a bowl, add the flour, the baking powder, the salt and the sugar.
2. Stir well with a spoon.
3. Add the beer and the ouzo.
4. Whisk to combine.
5. Add the ice cubes and place the bowl in your refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
6. Take the bowl out of the freezer and whisk once again.
7. Add the vegetable oil in a pan and heat (medium-high temperature).
8. Take another bowl and add some flour.
9. Dredge each cod fillet into the flour and then into the batter.
If you pick a salty cod you will need to desalt before cooking. So, cut the cod into portions, remove skin (optional), rinse to remove salt, place in a bowl and cover with water. If cod is not a fillet make sure to remove all the bones. Drain and change the water every 3 – 4 hours for at least 24-36 hours before preparing. Then rinse well and place the fish on a paper towel for a few minutes. The thicker the cod fillets are, the more hours you need to desalt them.
For a more crispy result, keep the cod in your refrigerator before cooking.
To pick the best salty cod, mind the color of the salt. It should be white and not yellow. This means that the cod is fresh.