The aroma alone will tell you that this is a beautiful Mediterranean dish! Chef and cookbook author Amy Riolo knows all about Greek cooking, and she’s back to talk about a Greek-style fish dish called Psari Plaki, which is roasted fish stewed with tomatoes and herbs. “Psari” is the Greek word for fish and “plaki” essentially translates as baked in the oven with vegetables: plaki actually refers to a method of cooking using olive oil, onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and other vegetables. While this particular dish, psari plaki, is very popular, many people also enjoy beans plaki and vegetable plaki.
Start with the star
Every great dish begins with great ingredients, and Psari Plaki is no exception. The main ingredient—the real star of this show—is the fish itself, and there’s no one right fish to make this “genuine.” Riolo allows a choice among cod, red snapper, sea bass, or halibut fillets. Other sources add tilapia or, in fact, any firm white fish… so this is a great opportunity to work with whatever the catch of the day happens to be at your local fish market! For this recipe, you’ll want the equivalent of six fillets. Many Greek families will tell you, however, that they prefer the whole fish for this recipe.
The next step: vegetables
Assemble the rest of your ingredients together. They include: one bunch of fresh chopped parsley, one lb. potatoes (Riolo likes medium-sized Yukon gold, which comes to about four potatoes), and two 10-oz packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained. As you can see, this dish isn’t just about the tomatoes! Add two Cubanelle peppers that you’ve sliced so that you have a stack of rings, and five chopped garlic cloves. Finally we get to the tomatoes! You need two medium tomatoes, one of them halved and sliced, and the other one is diced.
Put together 4 T. freshly chopped oregano (or 1 T. if it’s dried), 1 t. sweet paprika, with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Besides that, you’ll need ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 t. divided.
Riolo is quick to add that safety needs to always be a concern in the kitchen: high temperatures, sharp knives, and children don’t mix!
Variations in ingredients
Some cooks prefer to add more vegetables to the mix. Other recipes for this dish include onions, carrots, and celery, as well as lemon juice and wine, but Riolo keeps it simple.
In addition, many herbs (including dill, parsley, and scallions) provide your body with potassium, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamin C. In addition, many of them also have anti-inflammatory and bacteriostatic properties. So feel free to experiment with what works for you in this dish: it will all taste good and will all be excellent for your health.
Sprinkle toasted almonds over the top just before serving for an extra crunch. And be sure to serve your Psari Plaki with crusty bread and salad. Enjoy!