Fish a la Spetsiota

Photo of Greek Cookbooks on a bookshelf for Fish a la Spetsiota

It’s Greek To Me
If you ever feel like you’re in a cooking rut, take a Saturday and go through your cookbooks. As you weed out the ones to be donated, you will discover books you forgot you had. The ones you loved at one time but since have languished on the shelf are desperate to see the light of day.

This was me last Saturday.

Because my love of cookbooks (read: addiction) exceeds the amount of room I have to store them, it became necessary for me to cull the herd, as it were. Some books were easy to remove. Those were the books I acquired as editorial copies during my Barnes and Noble days and frankly never really used.

Then there were the books you never get rid of even if you don’t use them on a weekly basis. The Art of French Cooking (my grandmother’s copy) for example or The Joy of Cooking. Anything by James Beard or the 1941 copy of The Escoffier Cookbook (also my grandmothers…you get the gist).

The hardest decisions were made with the regional cooking books. I was shocked to note that I have just as many Cajun/Louisiana cookbooks as I do Mexican cookbooks, and I have a lot of Mexican cookbooks. I couldn’t bring myself to part with any of those. There were a few French ones that I just didn’t really need anymore but France is still well represented as are Spain and Italy. I was surprised, given the fact that I love the cuisine, that I didn’t have a wide selection of Greek cookbooks. I have a number of Mediterranean cookbooks but only a few that are specifically Greek.

One of the books I do have is The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas. It is a fantastically comprehensive collection of recipes from across all of Greece and its many islands. I recommend it highly. Diane Kochilas is an authority on Greek and Greek American cooking and her books are a must-have for any well-rounded library.

Apparently, I need to do a little work on my well-rounded library….

Maybe it’s because spring is right around the corner or maybe it’s because it’s been a while, but after my spring book cleaning I find myself with Greek food on the brain. The bright fresh flavor of lemons, olives, and olive oil are calling to me in a big way. But first, I need another Greek cookbook or two…I wouldn’t want all that new shelf space to go to waste….

Fish a la Spetsiota
Adapted from Diane Kochilas
Yields 4 Servings

This classic Greek Fish a la Spetsiota recipe comes from the island of Spetses off the eastern coast of the Peloponnese. This dish has many versions and this simple one is a favorite.

2 to 2-1/2 pounds halibut or cod fillets
1-1/2 cups peeled and seeded finely chopped fresh or canned tomatoes with juices
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
Lemons, optional

Salt the fish
Coat the fish lightly with salt and let it stand, refrigerated, for 30 minutes.

Make the marinade
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and wine for the marinade and let stand for a half hour.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Prepare the fish
Season the fish with a little additional salt and pepper and place it in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Spoon the marinade over the fish and top with breadcrumbs. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake the fish
Place the fish in the preheated oven and back until it is fork tender, the tomato topping dense and juicy, and the breadcrumbs golden (about 20 to 25 minutes).

To serve
Remove and serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

Comments are closed.