Fifty Shades of Greek (Food), Part 3: Something Fishy

Hopefully by now, you’ve collected your Greek staples–olives, olive oil and bread—and you’ve been enjoying some quality time at your table dipping bread in olive oil and nibbling olives.  Have you done some research on Greek cheese yet?  That is to say, have you sat down with a Greek cheese buffet and made like a mouse on Christmas?  How’s this intro to the Mediterranean diet working for you?  When people talk about the “Mediterranean diet,” they’re referring, in large part, to Greece.  We all know Greeks have some of the healthiest cuisine in the world—chock full of vegetables, olives, heart-healthy olive oil, etc.–but a major component of this healthy diet is fish and seafood.  Chances are that if you’ve been to any one of The Hungry Greek franchise locations, you’ve seen or personally tasted our salmon or grouper, either alone, or on one of our delicious Greek salads (talk about a powerhouse of a healthy lunch or dinner!), so you’ve experienced some of what Greek cuisine has to offer by way of fish.  But guess what?  There’s more!  Here are some of our favorite ways to eat fish and seafood like a Greek!

bakaliaro me skordalia-resized

11.  Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better.  Case in point:  Sardines, anchovies and smelt.  Fry them, pickle, bake, or marinate.  Prepare them a combination of ways.  Put them on a salad, eat them by themselves.  They are versatile little fishes and inexpensive.  They make a great meze (small Greek dishes that everyone shares)—or keep them all to yourself.  Let your preconceptions go.  Try them fresh—it’s a whole new world.

12.  You might think you don’t like to eat little creatures with tentacles but wait! Maybe you haven’t tried octopus before, grilled or marinated to perfection Greek style.  You should, but there is something you should know before you jump right into cooking it yourself.  If octopus isn’t cooked the right way, you’ll spend most of your night trying to chew it enough to get it down, and then who cares how it tastes?  The secret to tender octopus is beating it.  Some people say (and who are we to say true or false?) that Greek fisherman actually put octopus in the washing machine (sans soap) to get it just right before cooking. One thing’s for sure:  Beat it (old-school style on a rock if that’s all you have, otherwise you can use a bread-kneading knife) until it has a white froth (almost like soap bubbles but without the washing machine).  After you’ve beaten it into tender submission, marinate or grill it.  Just for the record, we love it grilled.

13.  Since we’re on the topic of tentacles, let’s talk about squid.  Most of you probably think of fried calamari, if you think about it at all, but you can also grill or stuff it.  It’s best fresh, but in a pinch, you can buy it frozen.

14.  If we’re going to talk about seafood, we can’t forget about shrimp.  On the island of Lesvos, shrimp are sometimes fried and eaten whole.  Yep, heads and all—don’t knock it ‘til you try it!  Or how about garithes sagankai?  This is a lovely little meze of baked cheese, tomato sauce and shrimp.  Shrimp, tomatoes, cheese—you can’t go wrong!  Just for fun, here’s a link to a recipe—try it at home! http://greekfood.about.com/od/fishappetizersmezethes/r/garides_saganak.htm   When it comes to shrimp, the possibilities are endless.  And tasty.  And healthy.  Eat up.

15.  Bakaliaro or cod is probably the most widely eaten fish in Greece, esp. in the winter.  The Greeks are big on eating what is available in season, a common-sense way to go about feeding yourself; so, in the winter, there’s cod and salted cod all around!  How do you eat it, you ask?  Well, a few million ways, probably (depending on your creativity), but there are a couple of ways that are very common.  Cod can be used in plaki, a dish of roasted fish in tomato sauce with vegetables (fresh cod is great this way), or in a dish called bakaliaro me skordalia, batter-dipped, deep-fried salted cod with a garlic sauce.  You’ll lose a little of the ‘healthy’ factor but reap the taste benefits with this meal.

Greece is a country made of islands, so it only makes sense that fish and seafood dishes are second nature.  We’ve given you highlights, but there are so many other varieties of fish, ways of cooking, spices to use, sea creatures to sample (we didn’t even get to mussels yet!), and dishes to discover!  Greek food is as big as your imagination.  You love gyros? Riff off the original but try grouper instead of lamb.  Or shrimp.  Maybe crab.  Who knows!  At the Hungry Greek franchise we serve you fresh, delicious Greek favorites everyday; we give you the beginning, a look into one of the healthiest diets in the world.  From there, where will you go?  Into your own kitchen; out into the world in search of new recipes, new varieties of ingredients; maybe even into your own Hungry Greek franchise location?  If you’re interested in bringing The Greek to your area, we’d love to help.  Check out the franchise pages on our website for more information.  Doesn’t everyone deserve fresh, healthy food that tastes great?  Don’t we all deserve The Greek?

Photo Credit: http://www.olivetomato.com/three-recipes-for-skordalia-greek-garlic-sauce-and-its-nutritional-value/