September 16 – September 22
μαγείρεμα ψαριών σε ένα νησί στη θάλασσα
Monday: Lamb Burgers with Tziziki/Feta Sauce
Tuesday – Thursday: Philadelphia on business
Friday: Extra-Mile Wine Tasting
Saturday: Grilled Branzini, Greek Salad, Lemon Potatoes
Sunday: Golf, Steelers Game, and Dinner at Laurel Valley
The Greek script above means, roughly, Grilling Fish on an Island in the Sea. (I am a self-taught beginner with Greek and focused on reading the Iliad not writing a menu, so that it might also mean grilling an island on a fish in the sea, or perhaps, the sea grills some fish on an island.) What I’m trying to express is the atmospheric excitement of the dish we’ll be sharing with you this week. Here’s another way to approach it:
Say that you’ve traveled to a picturesque Greek Island. After a day exploring the streets and shops of a blazing white village, edging out on its rocky cliffs to look at the sea below and then descending and swimming and walking its beautiful shoreline, you head back to your B&B for a restorative nap. Waking just before sundown, you splash some water on your face, dress comfortably in shorts and a loose-fitting shirt and head to a small restaurant on the beach, not a hundred yards from where you’re staying.
Here, as you sip retsina, a large, loud woman with jet-black hair, stuffs some local fish with lemon slices and thyme and cooks them over a wood fire built in a stone trough at one end of the restaurant. While the fish cooks, she chops up some cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions and tosses them with oregano, olives, salt and pepper, crumbled feta, and olive oil and lemon. In a pan, over the fire, some sliced potatoes have been cooking in chicken broth, oregano and lemon juice. She flips the fish, and then stirs and turns the potatoes which, their sauce having cooked down, begin to brown and crust up.
You are now, fairly hungry, having had nothing but a few olives since lunch. At that moment, the cook follows a server to your table where the server places a large platter of grilled, whole fish, a large bowl of the tomato, cucumber salad, and a platter of the crispy potatoes sprinkled with more oregano and garnished with lemon wedges. Several pitchers of a cool, bright, dry wine are set on the table.
Pouring herself a small glass of the wine, the cook lifts it in salute to your table, drains it and says, “Απολαμβάνω”. Well, since this is modern Greece and the good lady makes her living by cooking for tourists from Europe and America, she actually says, “Enjoy.” If this sort of living and eating appeals to you, you will want to cook the recipe below right away. It doesn’t take long, and it will knock the socks off any of your family and friends who enjoy living large and who are not frightened by the sight of food.
Grilling Fish the Greek Way
(adapted from a recipe on the internet by Adel Bekefi)
I know – grilling fish is frightening – it sticks to the grill! The secret is to use whole fish and to rub them generously with olive oil. Here’s how to create a dramatic fish dinner . .
20 minutes for the fish – if you throw in a Greek Salad and some lemon potatoes – maybe 70 minutes overall.
Ingredients: Per serving (just multiply by the number of diners)
1 whole fish, gutted and scaled, fins removed but head and tail intact
Branzino or Sea Bass are ideal. Any white-fleshed fish with mild flavor will work. You want a fish between ¾ and 1 lb. for each diner.
A few sprigs of thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt – Maldon is the ticket here.
Build a fire in your grill – wood is best, charcoal is very good, gas will work.
Dry the fish well, inside and out and place them on a baking she
Cut two thin slices from the lemon and cut these into half-moons.
Now oil the fish inside and out and rub the oil into the skin. Be careful, fish skin is rough, fins can cut you, and the inside of the fish will be bon
Salt the inside with maybe a teaspoon of the salt, and the outside generously with 2 teaspoons.
Stuff the inside of the fish with some sprigs of thyme and the lemon slices.
Now season the outside of the fish with some ground black pepper.
Cut the rest of the lemon in half lengthwise and then crosswise and rub these pieces in the olive oil on the baking sheet.
Place the fish on the hot grill and do not move it. Cook for about 7 minutes on each side and grill the lemon pieces as well. The fish should release, easily, when you turn it over and should be well-charred. Use tongs and a spatula to do the turning and then put the thyme and lemon slices that fell out back into the fish.
Serve the fish whole with a piece of grilled lemon. If you have picky eaters or children, fillet the fish by cutting down, just behind the gills, to the backbone and then sliding your knife down to the tail. Life out the backbone to expose the second fillet beneath. If you are serving children you will have to break up the fish to make sure that there are no bones. Tell adults that they’re on their own.
The perfect accompaniment to this is a Greek Salad (cucumber, olives, feta, tomato, red onion, oregano, olive oil and vinegar or more lemon juice, salt and pepper) and some lemon potatoes which you’ve baked in the oven. You can find recipes on the internet. Basically, these are chunks of potato baked on a cookie sheet in a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and chicken broth until tender and then baked without liquid to develop a good crust.