Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Greek Food Festival - Plaki (Greek Baked Fish)

Johanna has posted a great recipe for an Olive Oil Pie Crust that can be used for all kinds of savory pies and especially an upcoming Greek Herb Pie recipe. Check out her great recipe here.

Plaki is a simple, colorful, and flavorful baked fish casserole. This dish has the power to appeal to even confirmed fish haters. It boasts a flavorful tomato-herb topping that could also be used for shrimp and even boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The presentation makes it perfect for guests. At the same time, the simple ingredients make it a great choice for family dinners too!
Plaki was a staple in my parents’ Greek household. There are many variations of Greek baked fish, and most include tomatoes, herbs, onions, and garlic. Two ingredients are unique to my family: green onions and fennel. My mother and grandmother always used chopped green onions rather than regular yellow onions. Also, they’d forage the empty lots near our home to pick wild fennel. One major difference between commercial and wild fennel is that wild fennel has a more intense flavor, and it often does not have a bulb. My mother and grandmother would chop up the fennel fronds and tender stalks to flavor the tomato topping. Nowadays, I use the bulb fennel widely available in grocery stores. The fronds can be chopped and added to the tomato topping or simply used as a garnish.

This recipe makes about six servings, depending on appetites and dishes served alongside. However, it is easily cut in half. For just me and my husband, I’ll only use 1 pound of fish but keep the sauce/topping quantities the same just because I like it so much. Be sure to serve some crusty bread to sop up the delicious juices.

Most of the time, I bake the casserole in my kitchen oven. However, during the hot summer months, I’ll often use a metal roasting pan and cook it on my grill over indirect heat. If I’m just making half a recipe, I usually just use my toaster oven.

(Greek Baked Fish)
(Printable Recipe)

6 fillets firm, fleshed fish such as cod, red snapper, halibut, etc. (approximately 2 pounds)
1 bunch green onions, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly into strips with center core removed (fronds can be chopped and added to tomato mixture or you can just save a few fronds for garnish)
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped (1 tbsp. dried)*
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped (1 tbsp. dried)*
1 14-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 washed lemons: 1 thinly sliced (remove seeds) and one juiced
¼ cup olive oil
Pepper to taste

Brush a baking pan with olive oil. Place fish in pan. (Be sure to remove any bones before baking.)

Heat frying pan and add olive oil. Sauté fennel in oil until it begins to soften; add green onions, garlic, parsley, mint, and basil and continue sautéing until both onions and fennel are softened. Add canned diced tomatoes.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until sauce is quite thick. (The fish will release a lot of liquid during baking, so cook the sauce until it is almost paste-like, being careful not to scorch it.)

Drizzle lemon juice over fish in pan. Spread tomato mixture over fish. Cover fish with lemon slices. Bake uncovered at 350° for 20-30 minutes until fish flakes with fork.

*Fresh oregano or dill may be substituted or 1 tbsp. dried)

No comments: