Learn to love fish: European hake (cod's cousin) with a Balkan potato salad typically served with seafood.
I ate a good amount of seafood when I was a child, but these days I have to remind myself to put fish on my shopping list. It could be because salmon seems to be the fish choice of the day and, I admit, I never learned to make it well. I like eating salmon, I do. But frying or baking - regardless of the recipe - my salmon does not come out juicy and soft as it's supposed to.
As the summer - although moody and uncertain - is arriving, it inspired me to look through the treasure chest that is seafood for a flavorful fish recipe to share with you. And thus the hake, cod's European cousin.
Hake is a sea fish, light on the stomach, but meaty so you feel as if you've actually eaten a hearty meal. It's sold frozen and fresh. I've used the frozen one for today, and I was skeptical about the process. However - maybe you can gleam from the photos - these hakes turned out to be some of the best fish I've ever had. No longer will salmon terrorize me by coming out dry and choppy. And if salmon is your favorite, I urge you to experiment a little bit with hake (or cod if you can't find hake). You may find your new favorite fish.
But any Balkan fish meal would not be complete without the potato salad typical for this area. I'm including a recipe for the one my mom makes. If you make this potato salad once, you will make it many times. Forget the mayo infused messiness of most potato salads. Balkan potato salad is basically a few cooked potatoes and hard boiled eggs, chopped up with yellow onion and spices, covered with a lemon (or vinegar) and oil (or olive oil) vinaigrette. See, very simple. But sophisticated in taste. Potato softness, combined with onion crunchiness and lemon aroma, are an unparalleled seafood companion. (Isn't lemon perfect pairing with all, even chicken.)
Recipe by Samir Hajdarević.
European Cod And Potato Salad (Prženi Oslić i Krompir Salata)
- 3-4 large potatoes
- 3-4 eggs
- ½ yellow onion
- 3 ounces olive oil
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 smaller hakes or cod halved into fillets
- 4-5 tablespoons white flour
- 1 lemon
- Peel the potatoes and place in a large pot filled with water. Add eggs and bring to a boil. Eggs will take about 15 minutes after the boiling point to be very hard, so you can take them out at that time and place in a bowl with cool water. Time varies for the potatoes, so check them with a fork every few minutes. When they're soft, but not overly soft, they're ready to be taken out. Place in a bowl with eggs to cool.
- Peel the eggs and cut into thin rounds the thickness of three pennies. Cut the potatoes up the same way. Chop up the onion. Combine all three, add spices, and let it rest for a minute.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients and stirring. Pour over eggs, potatoes and onion and mix well. Place the salad in the fridge.
- If you bought the whole fish, clean it up by cutting in half perpendicularly, and taking the insides out. Wash the fish, and discard the insides together with the head and tale, but leave the skin on. You should be left with fish fillets. (If you had the fillets to start with you're good to go.)
- Heat oil on high in a deep skillet until it's really hot. Pour flour on a plate evenly.
- Dip each fillet in the flour and place in the skillet. Lower temperature just a little bit. Fry the first side for about 4-5 minutes. Flip and fry another 3-4 minutes. Place on a paper towel to soak up the extra oil.
- Serve with potato salad. For best taste, squeeze more lemon juice over the fish.