the best of the Med
Greece being a sea-faring nation, fish and sea-food comes often in the cooking spotlight. We have a fish soup called kakavia. Traditionally, kakavia was prepared by fishermen on the boat. Once they were done fishing, a meal would be prepared with whatever they had at hand: an onion, a potato and the humblest of their catch, keeping the best for the market. Kakavia is more of a concept than a recipe. In line with the Greek cooking practices, you have very few but very fresh ingredients and you make an extraordinary meal almost out of nothing.
Head straight to the recipe
Kakavia is not a fisherman’s only privilege, it is very popular with households too. The soup requires more than one type of fish, and there are two ways to go. You can either use a large, meaty deep water fish of the grouper family or smaller, thorny fish that go on the market for a very low price. There is no set type of fish to use, just what is in hand or more precisely at the fishmongers.
Here is a list of some Aegean treasures that are excellent in soup:
Large and meaty (deep water) fish:
- Dogtooth grouper, βλάχος
- Dusky grouper, ροφός
- Common seabream, φαγκρί
- White grouper, σφυρίδα
- Common dentex, συναγρίδα
- Mottled grouper, πίγκα
- Goldblotch grouper, στήρα
There is a chance you find the guys above a little pricey. For the soup you can use head or tails, they come very cheaply and add some smaller, more affordable fish in the pot:
- Small red scorpionfish, σκορπίδια
- Hake, μπακαλιαράκια
- Large-eye dentex, μπαλάδες
- Greater weever, δράκαινα
- John dory, χριστόψαρo
- Comber, χάνος
- Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, γύλοι
- Streaked gurnard, καπόνι
- Stargazer, λίχνος
Using brackish water to cook the soup. This is not a good idea! Even at sea, just a small amount of sea water is used to salt the soup, go for the safe option of salt.
- 1 kilo 2-3 different types of fish, I used hake, stargazers and streaked gurnards
- 1 onion
- 1 large potato
- 2-3 medium carrots
- 2-3 stalks of celery
- salt and pepper to taste
What to do
Cut the potato and onion in four and your carrots in large pieces.
Add in the pot with a litre of water the carrots, potato, onion, celery.
Boil until the vegetables are soft, approximately 20-25 minutes.
Remove the vegetables and add the fish in the pot.
They should cook within 10 minutes.
Serve vegetables and fish in the broth with a bit of lemon.
This is a very basic soup and of course you can add any fish or sea-food you like. Do you have a favourite fish or sea-food for your soup? Let me know in the comments.
from Athens with love