30 Jul 2012

Bacalao: One of the Greatest Salted Fish Dishes of all Time with Olives, Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Skordalia Mashed Potatoes

kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, capers and alot of garlic

This dish, which has its origins in the Mediterranean, I tasted for the first time at my neighbors - Jón Þorkell and Álfhildur. They served this wonderful dish made from Icelandic salted fish and it was truly delicious. Skordalia was not presented at their table, instead we added the mashed potatoes when we attempted to emulate their recipe.  

The mashed potatoes, or Skordalia, is in no way my idea - far from it. This is a well known Greek recipe which revolves around blending a whole lot of crushed garlic with e.g. potatoes, nuts and liquid-soaked bread. There is a wide range of recipes for this "sauce" where the common element is of course garlic and good extra virgin olive oil (which is almost the epitome of Greek cuisine) and some kind of acid, like vinegar or lemon juice. As should be obvious, this offers a lot of diversity in approach.

I originally tasted Skordalia when I was a boy at a dinner party with my parents. One of the guests had lived in Greece and brought the recipe back to Iceland. Everyone in attendance thought the amount of garlic used for mashed patotes was quite extraordinary! And it was robust - but robust with garlic - and I thought it tasted great. I think my love for garlic properly and seriously began at that point. And my garlic-love was not minimized by being raised where I was - my mother is a chronic garlic addict and it seems that this addiction is inherited as a dominant gene!

Wheat-coated Bacalao
Bacalao: One of the Greatest Salted Fish Dishes of all Time with Olives, Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Skordalia Mashed Potatoes

We got the fish from Iceland. We were incredibly lucky; our aforesaid neighbor, Álfhildur, offered us roughly a kilo of salted fish. Everyone should have neighbors like these!

I began by washing the fish in cold water. Dried it and then cut into chunks, seasoned and roll in a bit of flour.

Minced garlic with extra virgin olive oil

I placed the garlic in a food processor, and mixed into a fine paste along with a few tablespoons of quality extra virgin olive oil. The garlic is then used for the potatoes. 

Scorthalia in the making

I poured the garlic puree over the potatoes, probably around 12-15 cloves of garlic (I know, it does sound a bit extreme - but it is wonderful!). Mashed the potatoes along with 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper. Added a pinch of cream cheese as well, and last but not least, juice from half a lemon.

Bacalao in the pan

Next, the fish was fried. This I did last since the fish cooks very quickly. Firstly, pour oil into the pan, around a centimeter deep layer. When the oil is hot (180 degrees), you carefully layer the fish into it. I allowed it to cook for about 2 minutes on each side. When I had turned the salted fish over I added Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomotoes and capers and fried alongside the fish. 

Ready to serve

Removed the fish from oil with a slotted spoon so most of the oil is drained away. Layered beautifully on a plate and sprinkled with fresh parsley. 

Trivento Reserve Chardonnay

With the food we enjoyed this lovely wine from the Uco valley in Argentina, Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay from 2010. Very nice sip. Smells of fresh fruit and marked with a light touch of vanilla. A dry wine but a powerful taste of fruit and slightly oaky aftertaste.


This meal will definitely not disappoint. This I promise!

Bon appetit!

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