Easy2Make Oven Baked Bakaliaros!
On the 25th of March, the Greeks celebrate the anniversary of the revolution against the Ottoman Empire in 1821 and The Annunciation (Evangelismos) of Virgin Mary. The traditional dish eaten on this day is Bakalarios Skordalia, (fried salted cod fish served with a garlic dip) and if you are wondering, as I did, why the Greeks eat salted cod fish in the middle of the Greek Orthodox Lent, I can tell you the following:
March 25th is one of two exceptions made by the Greek Orthodox Church allowing consumption of fish (the other being Palm Sunday) and since fresh fish wasn’t easily available, especially for people living in remote mountain villages with no refrigeration, salty cod fish, once imported, became the ideal solution. Not only was it inexpensive in comparison to fresh fish but it could also be preserved for a long period of time!
Being Icelandic, I love being able to find good quality Bakaliaro (salted cod fish) from my home country at this time of the year . . . which of course inspires me to cook this delicacy with flavors reminding me of both Iceland and Greece.
Today for something different, instead of the fried version with the garlic dip, I would like to share with you one of my favorite oven baked, all in one, Bakaliaro dishes which I hope you will enjoy as much as I do! Just keep in mind that Bakaliaro needs to be soaked in cold water for a day or two in advance of cooking!
Easy2Make Oven Cooked Bakaliaro - Recipe!
½ - ¾ kg dried boneless Bakaliaro (salt cod fish) fillet
¼ - ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
1 large red onion – sliced into rings
2 large potatoes (300 – 400 g) – sliced
1 x 400 g can crushed tomatoes with onion
1 large beef tomato – sliced
1 lemon – sliced
2 – 4 bay leaves
Dried or fresh oregano, to taste
A little water
Rinse the salted cod fish fillet with cold water. Cut fish fillet into 4 – 5 large pieces and place fish in a large bowl covered with cold water. Leave to soak in cool place, or refrigerator, for AT LEAST 24 – 36 hours before cooking. This is necessary to leach out the salt. Change the water at 4 – 6 times during the soaking period. Please note that if the Bakaliaro is not soaked, it will be much too salty and inedible!
Remove the fish from the water. Pat it dry with paper towels and set aside.
Pour some of the olive oil into a large baking dish. Spread sliced potatoes evenly over the bottom of the baking dish and top with ¾ of the sliced onion rings. Place the salted cod fish fillets on top of onion, skin side down. Pour the crushed tomatoes evenly over the fish and drizzle with a little olive oil. Finally arrange the rest of the sliced onion rings together with the tomato and lemon slices on top. Add the bay leaves and sprinkle with dried oregano, to taste.
Pour a bit of water into the baking dish and place it in a pre-heated oven (180 – 200 C) for about 40 – 45 minutes or until both potatoes and fish are cooked.
Serve warm or at room temperature, on its own or with steamed greens.
If you like, add 1 – 2 crushed garlic cloves to dish.
For a sweet touch, add about ¼ cup dark raisins, which according to a friend of mine “makes this dish just heavenly”. . . I will leave it up to you to decide
© Chef KaritasM – March 2019