I discovered this particular baked version of the dish by chance. You see Greek-style fish is one of Poland’s most traditional foods – served cold around Easter and Christmas. There is always left overs, because Polish people love to overcater, and so I’ve always liked to challenge myself to find new ways to transform those leftovers into delicious meals in their own right.
Since it was leftovers galore following Christmas just gone, and no one could stand the thought of eating any more of the dish cold, Mum reminded me that I once prepared and served the fish warm – as a bake, with a melted cheese topping. So, I made the bake instead. My uncle and aunt liked it so much, we actually managed to have it two nights in a row, this is how good the warmed stuff is. The flavours became so much more intense and the fish more tender, I’m surprised no one had ever thought of it before!
By way of clarification, I think the attribution of the dish to the Greeks, however accurate, comes from the medditteranean feel and simplicity of the flavours: fresh fish combined with a slightly acidic tomato based vegetable topping. Since the dish is normally served cold it is perfect for summer and thus attributing it to that nation / region would also make sense.
Greek-style fish bake with tomatoes and garden vegetables
For the fish
- 600g thin white fish fillets (I used barramundi)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
For the vegetables
- 4 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1/2 celeriac // or 2 celery sticks
- 1 white onion
- 2 cups water
- 100g tomato paste
- 4 cilantro
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp white (wine) vinegar
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
For the bake
- grated cheese
Start by chopping all the vegetables into approx 1 cm cubes. Heat some oil in a stock pot and fry off the onion until just translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, bay leaves, cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and top up with water and tomato paste, mix well. Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, crumb the fish (dip in egg and coat in egg, then flour then creadcrumbs) and shallow fry the fish until cooked through.
When the vegetables are tender, thicken the sauce by blending 1 tablespoon clornflour with a little water before stirring into the vegetable mix.
Layer in a rectangular baking dish starting with fish, top with vegetables and repeat. This is where the process starts if you would like the dish to be served cold. Top with lots of grated cheese to make the bake. Heat in a preheated oven at about 200C (400F, gas mark 6) for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with mixed italian herbs if you like. Serve immediately with a green leafy salad.
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