Greek style fish and chips…with eggplant
Cod with eggplant and potatoes (Μπακαλιάρος με μελιτζάνες και πατάτες) There is something to be said for the thrill that comes with anticipation. Like looking under the Christmas tree and seeing all of the gifts waiting to be opened. Or carrying home the latest best-selling novel, imagining crawling into bed and cracking the spine. Or marking “X”‘s on the calendar as you count down the days to your holiday. Or opening up your refrigerator and seeing your fish soaking in cold water. What joy!
Because this recipe for cod with eggplant and potatoes uses salt cod, which needs to be soaked for at least 24 hours (and usually longer), before you can cook it, it is not a last-minute meal. Salt cod is not something that you decide to use on a whim; we’ve got other recipes for that. However, this recipe is so very good, that after you try it once, you will likely anticipate having it again.
Our mother tells us that this dish also goes by the name Bakaliaros savoro (Μπακαλιάρος σαβόρο). It was commonly made in the village where she was raised on the Feast Day of Saint Sotirios on August 6th, and was much anticipated. Have a taste, and you’ll understand why!
This is a delicious way to enjoy salt cod and is different than the traditional way that it is served during some major Greek holidays. On March 25th for instance, a very important day for Greeks, salt cod is often served with a garlic potato based spread called skordalia. You can find that recipe here. Here the cod is first fried, and then baked in a tomato sauce alongside some vegetables. So delicious.
The cod used to make cod with eggplant and potatoes is boneless, dry, salted cod, without the skin. It is quite readily available in Mediterranean grocery stores, large supermarkets or a well stocked fishmonger. Because the fish is preserved in salt, it keeps for a long time. Our parents like to stock up and often keep extras in the refrigerator, in their original packaging. Despite the fact that in theory, salt cod does not need refrigeration, they feel that it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful. In any case, the salt which preserves the fish also makes it very, very salty (duh). Therefore, before you even think about cooking your cod, you have to rinse it to remove all the excess surface salt, and then soak it in a bowl of cold water for at least 24 hours (and potentially up to 72 hours), depending upon the size of your fish.
Prior to soaking your cod you should cut it into serving size pieces, trying to keep them all relatively equal in order to standardize the cooking time. Rinse each piece and place them in a large bowl and cover them with water. Store the soaking fish in the refrigerator. Change the water at least twice a day, and more often if possible. You will notice that your cod will look somewhat larger after it has soaked for a while. This is expected since your fish is being re-hydrated. Take a look at the cod pieces in our photos – these pieces were soaked for approximately 36 hours and were perfectly delicious.
Here our parents have baked the cod with french fries and eggplant. First, they fried the potatoes and then the eggplant. After this, they fried the cod. Frying the ingredients in this order means that you can use the same oil for the entire recipe, limiting waste. That is always a good thing.
Our parents add dried rosemary branches to this meal. In their approach to waste nothing, our parents dry not only the rosemary sprigs, but the branches of the plant. If you do so as well, that’s great (and a bit weird we think)! If however, you don’t keep this part of your rosemary plant, substitute the branches with 1/2 tablespoon of dried rosemary as indicated in the recipe.
Our parents also use their homemade chunky tomato sauce in this meal. It is SO good, and if you have made it before, and you have some lying around, you can use it for this recipe. If you have not made their chunky tomato sauce however, and have no inclination to do so, then substitute with a thick tomato sauce or passata.
You’ll see that not much salt is added to this recipe; this is because not matter how much you soak your cod, it will still be somewhat salty. Better not too add too much additional sodium; the flavours are so great, you won’t miss it.
Looking for some more recipes starring cod? Try these:
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Cod with eggplants, zucchini and potatoes
- 5 medium-sized eggplants, sliced into lengthwise pieces, each about 1 inch thick
- 2 large sized zucchini, or 4-5 small/medium size
- 5 medium yellow potatoes
- 4-5 prepared pieces of dried salted cod
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional for sprinkling
- 2 cups chunky tomato sauce, or passata
- 5 garlic cloves sliced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary leaves, or 4 dried rosemary branches
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Soak your dried salt cod, for a minimum of 12 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Soak your eggplant pieces in a bowl of cold water for about 30 minutes, and then drain. Toss them with 1/2 tablespoon salt. Allow to sit for approximately 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, while your eggplant is soaking, peel your potatoes and sliced them into thick wedges (about 6 wedges per medium size potato).
- Prepare your zucchini by cutting each one in half widthwise, and then cutting each half into spears. Set aside.
- Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in medium size frying pan and fry your potatoes until golden brown; this should take about 10 to 15 minutes, and you may need to cook your potatoes in batches depending upon how big your pan is.
- Toss your cooked potatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and place them at one end of a 9 x 11 inch baking pan.
- Toss the zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt and add them to the frying pan. Cook until they are golden brown, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel lined dish. Place them in the baking pan.
- Next, fry your drained eggplant, turning them over as they brown. This should take 10 – 15 minutes. Toss your cooked eggplant with 1/4 teaspoon salt and place them at the other end of your baking pan (so you will have potatoes at one end and zucchini and eggplant at the other).
- At this point it's a good time to change your frying oil. The oil will be dark, and you don't want the cod as it's frying to become dark
- Drain your cod and rinse well. Lightly coat with flour and fry your cod, 5 – 10 minutes per side until golden brown. After the cod is fried, place it in the middle of your baking pan, on top of the veggies.
- Mix the tomato sauce and olive oil, and pour the mixture over cod, eggplant, zucchini and potatoes. On top of this sprinkle the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.
- Place in the middle rack of a preheated oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.