BAKED FISH IN TOMATO SAUCE
Take a few fillets of fish – fresh is best but frozen works well too – mackerel or cod, for example. Salt well and place in a baking dish.
Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and gently fry two or three thickly sliced onions, two cloves of crushed garlic and some chopped parsley till soft. Add about two generous cups of grated fresh tomato and leave to simmer slowly for about 10 minutes till thick.
Pour sauce over the fish, then drizzle extra olive oil over the mixture (from ½ to 1 cup, depending on how many fish you are cooking). Then you need to add nearly the same amount of water. Pepper liberally and bake in oven for about half an hour at 180º to 200º.
Then, if you are anything at all like me, cross your fingers and hope it works!
By Marlene de Wilde
(Marlene, together with her husband Yianni, runs the Kontra Flokos Taverna in Kokkini Hani)
FROM DOWN UNDER TO CRETE: THE JOURNEY THAT NEVER ENDS
It’s a long way from the endless wheat fields and dusty plains of South East Queensland to the blue waters of the Aegean and the ancient Minoan ruins of Crete . But it is a journey I have made. It is just as great a distance between the inevitable Aussie barbie with ‘meat and three veg’ to the culinary delights of the Cretan kitchen. That’s a journey I have been making for 18 years and still haven’t reached my destination!
For all their apparent simplicity, I have found Cretan dishes quite difficult to master. The first and greatest hurdle for me was the adding of great quantities of olive oil to whatever food was being cooked. Surely a few tablespoons would do just as well, I thought. But no, after countless attempts and arguments around the dinner table, I had to admit the taste was just not the same.
The second obstacle to my achieving Cretan cooking “greatness” was trying to get my head around the amount of salt you needed to add. But again, without the salt, I was never going to even begin to create a dish to compare to my mother-in-law’s impeccable moussaka.
Having taken a few years to overcome the oil and salt thing, I then had to discover what else was standing in the way of my attaining Mediterranean Master Chef status. Fresh ingredients are important in the cooking of any dish anywhere, and the Cretan obsession with using only fruit and vegetables in season is enough to drive you out of the kitchen at times. But they are right. Fresh, tasty – homegrown, if possible – ingredients are vital if you want to get your near and dear ones coming back for seconds.
Unfortunately, that just about wraps up my knowledge about cooking in Crete. As you may have gathered, and as Yianni is fond of telling me, it still doesn’t add up to much – which is why I do most of the serving and he does most of the cooking at our restaurant. What follows is one of his tasty recipes incorporating the oil and salt issue we have just discussed and the use of the most ‘in season’ vegetable (or fruit, I’m not sure) around – the ubiquitous, delicious tomato.