Friday in Central Wisconsin and after 8 years of living here, my thoughts turned to fish fry. I considered driving out to Rusty’s Backwater Saloon, located a few miles from town at the juncture where Mill Creek empties into the Wisconsin River, but with temperatures in the high 90s for the fourth day in a row, and my visiting grandmother well in her 90s, I decided it would be better if we stayed in the comfort of our home and its hard-working air conditioner. So I stopped by Ski’s meat market and bought a pound of Atlantic cod to make home-made fish fry — Greek style!
Greeks traditionally eat Bakaliaro, batter-fried salt cod with Skordalia (a very tangy, very garlicky potato puree) on March 25, the day that the Bishop of Patras declared the start of the Greek war of independence against more than 400 years of Ottoman rule, and the day the church celebrates the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, when the archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child. They also enjoy it at other times.
I decided to make my Greek-style fish fry using fresh rather than salt cod, under my grandmother’s strict supervision. It came out light and tasty — a perfectly refreshing meal to enjoy in the middle of a heat wave, especially when accompanied by a cold beet salad and a chilled glass of dry white wine, or an ice-cold beer!
Here’s what we did:
- 2 russet potatoes, about 1 pound
- 1 slice white bread, crusts removed, soaked in water
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (the tastier the oil, the tastier the skordalia)
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (some use cider vinegar, or plain white vinegar — it depends on your taste)
- 1 head garlic, cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper
Peel, slice and boil potatoes until tender. Drain and press through a ricer, or use a masher to mash until smooth. Squeeze excess water from slice of bread, and crumble into potatoes. Stir thoroughly.
Stir in olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and sugar. You can adjust the amount of any of these ingredients to suit your taste.
Season with salt and pepper. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- 1 pound thick Atlantic cod fillet
- salt and pepper
- olive oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer)
- lemon wedges
Rinse the cod and pat dry. Slice into three-inch pieces.
Place some flour on a flat plate and stir in some sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Very gently and lightly dredge the cod pieces in the flour, shake to remove excess flour, and set aside. You want the fish to be very lightly but thoroughly coated with flour on all four sides.
Pour a thin layer of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not scorching.
Add fish and cook about 3-4 minutes until golden brown on one side. Turn the fish over gently and repeat until all four sides are a nice golden color.
Remove from pan and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. Let it drain, then serve with lemon wedges and Skordalia (and a nice green salad or roasted beets).
Warning: this is VERY garlicky!!!!!