Bacalao with Spicy Tomato sauce & Olives
In spring around the Greek National Day (25 March) when many locals enjoy the traditional dish of Bakalario Skordalia, (fried salted cod fish served with garlic dip), I’m always inspired to come up with one or two recipes using salted cod fish, from Iceland or Norway, that is available in many local markets and shops at this time.
From this year's recipes I came up with, the Bacalao with a spicy tomato sauce and olives (recipe below) is my favorite. The versatile sauce makes all the difference and can be used as a base for many other dishes.
The second one that I liked was cooked as the oven steamed fresh cod and served with sliced & peeled yucca root + sliced leek & scallions that I also cooked separately in the oven with water and a bit of olive oil.
Instead of the yucca root you can, of course, use potatoes or sweet potatoes with onions and/scallions with really tasty results! Here are a few photos to help you get am idea of what I did: . . . decided on veggie, then peeled & sliced the Yucca root and placed in an oven proof pan . . . and then topped the Yucca slices with sliced scallions and sliced leek!
Bacalao or Cod loins with Spicy Tomato sauce & Olives
½ kg Bacalao (salted Cod fish) or fresh Cod fish loins
4 tblsp olive oil
6 scallions, sliced
1 red chili pepper finely chopped (deseeded) or to taste
1 can (400g) chopped and peeled tomatoes with juices
1 bay leave or fresh thyme or other fresh herb of choice, to taste
1 – 2 tblsp sweet Chili sauce
1 – 2 roasted red peppers (from can/jar), diced
2 – 3 Tblsp sliced Kalamata olives, or to taste
Coarse black pepper, to taste
If using Bacalao (Bakaliaro) – desalt!
Salted cod fish must be soaked in cold water for 24 – 48 hours before cooking as otherwise it will not be edible. The soaking leaches out the salt and you will need to change the water at least 2 – 3 times every 24-hour period. Once this is done, rinse fish with cold water and if needed remove any bones with tweezers.
Oven steam fish or cook in micro as per paragraph below . . . just like the fresh cod loins. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your piece of fish . . . . so adjust cooking time if needed!
Oven steam cod fish as per this recipe or if you have only one or two pieces of fish I often use the microwave as it’s so quick to cook. In this case, place fish on a plate and drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Cover with slightly wet kitchen paper and cook 1 – 2 minutes on high and then turn fish over and if needed drizzle with a bit more lemon juice or water and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes.
Make sauce in advance or while oven steaming your fish.
Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, sliced scallions and diced chili and cook, stirring continuously for about 2 – 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Add the bay leaf or fresh herbs and allow to simmer for a few minutes and then mix in the chili sauce, diced red peppers and olives. Bring to boil and then remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes before serving with fish.
Season sauce with coarse black, to taste, and if using fresh cod loins you may want to add a bit of salt to sauce but take care not to overdo it as the olives are quite salty. Instead of the salt you could capers, to taste.
When ready to serve, place fish on a serving tray or on individual plates and top with tomato sauce with olives. Garnish with fresh herbs (optional) and serve either warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 2- 4 Servings
Instead of fresh or salted cod fish you can also use any other fish of your choice. I normally use cod but when I'm in Iceland especially, I also like to use fresh haddock loins and sometimes fresh halibut fillets too.
This sauce is also great with pasta and tops to make quick vegetarian dishes and main course salads.
When using the sauce for a salad I normally simmer it a bit longer to reduce the sauce. This will give you a thicker base and the only thing you need add is your favorite mixture of vegan ingredients to make it a tasty main course dish . . . with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)!
For a traditional Bacalao salad, cook fresh fish/bacalao (or use any leftover fish). Once cooled to room temperature, break it up with a fork and add to reduced sauce (at room temperature) with diced steamed and peeled tomatoes, chopped avocado, sliced cherry tomatoes and if you like capers and freshly chopped leaf parsley or coriander.
You can also serve the this salad as per photo above - with a whole piece of fish.
My favorite vegetarian dish using this sauce is as follows: Add cooked & drained chickpeas (from can is ok) to the sauce + steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower and/or carrots (optional) + diced steamed potatoes + sliced cherry tomatoes and a few capers or pickled caper leaves.
An assortments of sautéed sliced peppers and mushrooms are also great in this type of dish. The secret is using ingredients and herbs you love, and possibly have at home or in your fridge . . . . to make a healthy and delicious meal that you enjoy . . . by yourself or with family and/or friends!
©KaritasM – April 2022