We typically eat bakaliaros and skordalia together. We know it tastes great, but most don’t know that this particular combination of foods offers nutritional benefits as well.
Bakaliaros and Skordalia
Bakaliaros (bah-kahl-YAH-ros) is cod that has been preserved in salt and is a classic dish in Greek cuisine, served during Lenten periods – usually on the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and on Palm Sunday. It is typically fried and often served with a mashed potato garlic sauce, Skordalia. Those who are familiar with this dish know how well these two food items complement each other, particularly in taste! What many don’t know, is this combination of foods complement each other for perfect for nutritional assimilation (digestion) and synergy (nutritional density when combined)! Read on to see how.
High in healthy fats
Bakaliaros itself is not a fish that scores high when it comes to the amount of healthy fat it contains. Many other types of fish have significantly higher amounts of omega 3’s (i.e. salmon, tuna, and sardines). However, researchers have discovered that when cod is prepared in a specific manner, the amount of healthy fats found in it becomes comparable to the amounts found in its high fat fellow fish. Specifically, when cod is pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil; Greek style. Pan frying with EVOO actually raises the amounts of healthy fats available in the fish. Does this mean that you can pan fry salmon in olive oil and raise the amount of healthy fat available in your Greek style salmon dish? No…there seems to be a saturation point and salmon reaches that point on its own prior to cooking.
Keep in mind that pan frying is key for optimal preparation and not deep frying (which instead destroys the healthy fats found in seafood), therefore we may continue to enjoy the high healthy fat benefits associated with this traditional meal.
Many people are worried — and rightly so — about the toxicity levels currently found in fish. These include:
- PCP’s (synthetic chemicals that wreak havoc on our bodies by acting like hormones)
- POP’s (potential cancer causing persistent organic pollutants)
These are but a few examples of the types of toxins that we should be worried about ingesting when consuming seafood. The jury still seems to be out in regard to how toxic cod is. Amazingly though, with the addition of the mashed garlic potato salad, it seems that the Greeks have this part taken care of too.
Chelation is the term used when referring to the cleansing and drawing out of heavy metals in the body, like mercury found in fish. The term chelation is Greek in origin (from the word χήλη -“hili”, meaning claw) and named when it was believed that certain foods “clawed” out or pulled out certain chemicals from the body through digestion.
One of the most effective ways to detox and or chelate is with the use of raw garlic. Raw garlic is considered to be one of the most potent detoxifiers AND cancer preventing foods out there. As a result, it serves as a perfect pairing for fish helping to remove those unwanted metals AND helping to boost our own immunity to combat any potential cancer causing threats.
Eating fish but don’t have access to garlic? Raw cilantro, chlorella, parsley and raw onion ALL have chelating properties and have been clinically proven to help remove heavy metals from the body.
High in resistant starch
Resistant starch functions like a fiber; once ingested, it fills you up and doesn’t necessarily become digested. In your system it also serves as a prebiotic by feeding all of the healthy bacteria in your intestine, as it travels on its way out. Resistant starch is considered a superfood for the digestive system and cold potatoes are just one form of this resistant starch.
The cold, mashed garlic potato salad is a phenomenal example of resistant starch that has been around for years, unlike the term itself which has just recently come to people’s attention.
Bakaliaros and Skordalia: synergy of health and tradition
Unwittingly, Greeks have been consuming a meal that is almost medicinal in nature for thousands of years. This is also symbolically significant, as many individuals tend to consume this meal frequently during Lenten periods. While the ingredients, when looked at individually, may be viewed as flawed and not so healthy by many, when combined, cooked, and eaten the traditional Greek way, the synergistic health benefits outweigh any possible negatives.
Bakaliaros and Skordalia
- 2-1/2 lb salted cod
- Extra virgin olive oil for frying
- 18 oz water
- Approximately 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for dredging
- 2-2.25 lb potatoes, boiled
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 2 lemons
- salt to taste
- Soak cod in water and put in refrigerator. Let sit for 2-3 days, and change the water 2-3 times per day.
- Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. Remove all the bones and cut into portions
- Dredge cod pieces in flour. Chill 2 hours, so it turns into batter.
- Fry each piece 2-3 minutes, until golden.
- Wash potatoes well. Remove skins and boil until tender. Let cool, and chop into small pieces.
- Using a food processor, blend garlic, lemon juice and about 1/2 cup boiling water. Salt to taste. Add in potato pieces. Continue to mix. Drizzle in olive oil to desired consistency.
- Serve together and enjoy!