Psari Plaki (Baked Fish)

Seafood rules the tables of Greece. With so many islands and close mainland coastal waters, the Greeks have a bounty of choices to bake, fry, grill, or boil. It’s understandable, in a country of such passionate cooks, that everyone has a preference, and the different types of seafood often require different types of preparation. Sardines are best fried, octopus tastes great off the grill, and a boiled fish soup always hits the spot when cool winds blow in off the Aegean. Lucky for us, seafood reigns as all important in the Mediterranean diet all over the world. My personal favorite at home, when I have fresh cod or any other firm white fish: PSARI PLAKI. Baked fish never had it so good.

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Before taking a further bite out of this recipe, let’s break down the name. Psari simply means fish, while plaki refers to a dish baked in the oven with olive oil and vegetables. Onions, garlic, leeks, and celery are sliced and sautéed, then diced tomatoes are added to round out the flavors, creating a tasty sauce. I like to use plenty of vegetables in my base in order to make for more toppings to eat later. Once the vegetables are cooked, they’re arranged on top of the psari and sent to the oven to bake. That’s where the magic happens. You get mouth-watering vegetables with every bite of psari plaki—about as healthy as it gets when it comes to Greek cuisine.

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Psari Plaki (Baked Fish)
Recipe type: Vegetarian/Main Course
Serves: 3-4
 
Psari plaki is a delicious baked fish dish.
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs cod (or any other white fish like halibut or tilapia)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 leeks, cut crosswise
  • 1 cup of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped*
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start by pouring the juice of one lemon over the cod. Lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano. Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet or sauce pan. Sauté the onions, garlic, leeks, and celery (plus some of the celery leaves) until tender.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes. Stir in the parsley. Season generously with oregano, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Add the cod in a ceramic baking dish. Cover the cod with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with oregano. Finish with thin slices of lemon on top.
  6. Bake until fish becomes flakey, about 40 minutes. Garnish with the remaining parsley if desired.
Notes
*optional: many cooks substitute dill for the fresh parsley or combine the two

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