Wednesday, 16 January 2008

How to cook: Psarosoupa

Red snapper is a great fish to choose for soup because it doesn't fall apart and has a wonderful taste to impart to the vegetables. This recipe uses a traditional Greek oil-and-lemon sauce (latholemono) for the vegetables and fish, and rice is added to the soup. It's a delicious and substantial meal.


  • 3 - 3 1/2 pounds of red snapper (or slightly more if uncleaned)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks (about 1 pound)
  • 1 pound of carrots, cut in chunks
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound of small zucchini, cut part-way through, lengthwise
  • 2 pounds of medium potatoes, peeled, sliced lengthwise into 6 pieces each
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • sea salt
  • water
  • 2/3 cup of rice
  • ------------
  • 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)


Note: This recipe requires 2 soup pots or one soup pot and a large bowl.

Scrape the fish to remove scales. Cut off and discard fins. Gut and remove and discard the head. Wash fish well to remove any debris.

If the fish are larger than one-person servings, score the fish on one side into serving size pieces using a sharp knife (don't cut into the bones). Salt the zucchini.

In a soup pot, bring oil and 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, tomatoes, and celery, and boil covered for 15 minutes. Add potatoes and zucchini and continue to boil covered for 20 minutes. Add fish, cover, and continue to boil for 25 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Make the sauce in the blender: Combine the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and blend on high until thickened (about 5 seconds).

Carefully, remove fish and 3/4 of the vegetables from the pot using a slotted spatula, and place in a serving dish. Pour the sauce over the fish and vegetables, cover and set aside.

Ladle soup stock and vegetables into the blender (don't fill more than half way), and mix on high for 7 seconds until puréed. Pour into a second soup pot or a large bowl. Continue until all the soup stock and vegetables have been puréed. (If using a large bowl, rinse out the pot and pour in the soup.) Add 8 3/4 cups of water to the soup and bring to a boil. Add rice and cover. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the juice of one lemon.

Serve fish and vegetables on a platter, and soup in a tureen or individual soup bowls. Serve with pepper and lemon wedges on the side to be added to taste.

Yield: serves 6-8

More for Cretan diet

Have you ever tasted "dako", kalitsounia, lamb stamnagathi, fennel pie, staka with eggs, "alatsolies"?

If you have, then you know what we are talking about... If not... then you have one more good reason to visit Crete, Hania and the villages of the municipality of Platanias!

Cretan diet is one more of the things that make Crete stand out.

This diet, which is actually the base of what is known as the famous Mediterranean diet, has been declared officially from the world's medical society as the healthiest and most complete of diets.
Nowhere else has such wholesome food been adapted in everyday nutrition as it is here. Handpicked mountain greens, low-fat white cheese, double baked rusks, fresh vegetables and fruits in large quantities, are all bits and pieces of the jig-saw puzzle that makes the everyday Cretan diet unique.

The olives and olive oil of Crete hold a dominant -almost symbolic -position in agriculture and local cuisine. The Cretan olive oil -especially the one that is manufactured in the region of Hania -is possibly the best in the world and has been the base of the Cretan diet for thousands of years. Its fine golden-green color and refined taste that still manages to maintain the aroma of the fresh olive, is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant substances. For this product, it is difficult to discern between an incredible nutriment and a fine medicine.

Additionally, the extremely mild and favorable climate gives Crete the almost unique privilege to develop and deploy a vast variety of agricultural and livestock production. An apparent disadvantage, the limited size of the island, is actually turned into an advantage by eliminating all other disadvantages that are present in full scale mass productions. All products here are more cared for and better prepared, something almost impossible in any mass production. It is not by chance that all agricultural products which are originally labeled as "product of Crete" are most valued, higher priced and most frequently asked for.

The abundant, first quality "low-fat" olive oil, products from small family farms, vegetables and fruits, combined with low consumption of meat, all contribute to... the secrets of the Cretan diet!

The land and its people took care or all the rest. In Crete, dinner is much more than just a process of sustenance. It is about relish, and mostly it is an expression of sociability and a way of living that has been imprinted on the culture of the island. The friendly gathering around a table full of food, delicacies and wine, is maybe the one thing that most characterizes the everyday life of Cretans.

It is understandable then why the Cretan cuisine is so well taken care of and so cherished. With an endless variety of dishes, appetizers and sweets, all based almost completely on local products, in close contact with ages of tradition, the Cretan cuisine has nothing but friends. An inextricable aspect of the traditional Cretan diet, with a regular seat on the dinner table and a vital role in social commune, is its wine. You will be able to find plentiful local red wine mainly from the variety of Romehiko, as well as many more choices of local wine based on international varieties.

Of course, modern industrial civilization has not left unaffected the nutrition habits of the Cretans. Many typical samples of the so-called modern way of living -for example the increase in meat consumption -have infiltrated in modern life. Even so, the core and basic substance are still pure and he who seeks it, will easily find it. In the area of the municipality of Platanias, housewives stand their ground, and tradition still means tradition!

This any visitor will discover in every aspect, in most dinning halls, in taverns, in cafeterias, even in the grand tourist units. If you are lucky or... search a little deeper, then you might enjoy a Cretan meal from the inside of a Cretan house, in the company of good friends. There where the meaning of Cretan hospitality literally comes to life...

Most wanted!

Crete is perhaps the most famous part in Greece for its separate cuisine. Cretans with the passage of the years developed a great production of agricultural products, which constituted also basic components of their diet. The balanced diet of Cretans has become repeatedly object of researches, being the reason of their excellent health condition and the low mortality. In a Cretan dinner you will always see, vegetables, pies, fruits, legumes, dairy, bread, olives. Of course, meat is also an element of Cretan alimentation in little quantity, as well as fresh fishes and seafood. Basic element of Cretan cuisine is also the olive oil. Cretan olive oil is of excellent quality, makes good to the health and is exported to the entire world. The Cretan dinner always include wine or raki, the strong local alcoholic drink. Some of the delicacies that you can try in Rethymno are the following:

* Chochlious: snails cooked with grasses or fried in olive oil. It is a very tasty traditional dish.
* Dakos: is a snack including vinegar and water-soaked barley bread, which is accompanied by small pieces of tomato, garlic, onion and cheese feta.
* Apaki: smoked meat, usually lamb.
* Ofto: meat cooked in a ceramic dish and fried potatoes with the peel.
* Cheeses: local mizithra and anthotiro.
* Kaltsounia: sweet snack with Cretan honey of excellent quality.