Once again I'm somewhat uninspired but it's not the weather's fault this time as it's been a beautiful day - blue skies, and no wind and also relatively mild. No I'm just losing it.
So I turned to my Guardian newsletters, and particularly their Twenty best easy Mediterranean recipes where I found this dish - Fish kebabs with skordalia. The author is Yasmin Khan who has written at least a couple of lovely recipe books, one of which - her book on Persia I own. In a way she is being brave with this dish because it features some fish kebabs that are made with a Turkish marinade, accompanied by skordalia a kind of Greek dip. I mean you don't mix Greece and Turkey - they have been enemies since forever - think the Trojan war for starters.
We haven't had any fish this week, and we won't be either, because it's beef stroganoff tonight and our granddaughter's Indian themed birthday party tomorrow. There will definitely be no fish there as fish is banned in their house by my son because of all the terrible things that go on around fish. And we seem to have been inundated with bad stories of late, so I too am a bit cautious. But if you are careful you can get MSC approved fish and that's what I shall do when next I do fish.
But really it was the skordalia that grabbed my attention. I have never tasted skordalia, not even in any of the many Greek restaurants in Melbourne. The name comes from the Greek word 'skorda' which apparently means garlic, and almost everyone maintains that garlic is essential. Not our own celebrity Greek George Calombaris though - he has a recipe that has no garlic in it at all. Well his star is a bit in decline anyway, so I shall ignore him.
Actually the American website Serious Eats has the most comprehensive recipe I think, and I reckon it would be a good place to start. The other ingredients that could be included seem to be potatoes or bread or occasionally beans; almonds, olive oil and lemon juice. It seems to me after a fairly lengthy perusal of the options that if you are going to be authentic then potatoes are the way to go.
Now I am a potato freak. I adore potatoes, but somehow I have never been attracted to the notion of cold mashed potato. Well at first glance that's what this dish is. Glance again though and you see all that garlic, the lemon juice and the almonds, and yes, it could possibly be really good.
Yotam Ottolenghi goes the bread route with his version and tops the whole thing with more almonds. That's the other thing we do with dips these days isn't it? We used to just put it in a dish with something to dip into it besides it. These days you seem to have to at least add a swirl of olive oil to the top. And why not? It does make it look prettier.
This approach is taken a step further by plonking something rather more substantial on top in the modern vogue of spreading some kind of mash on a plate and putting your main thing on top. Two examples of this approach are Rick Stein's Roasted beetroot with almond skordalia and one from delicious. Magazine - Parsnip skordalia with mushrooms - and yes, that idea of using parsnips is probably pinched from Greg Malouf, whose recipe, slightly modified appears on a blog called Please Pass the Recipe, where the author calls it Parsnip and smoked almond skordalia. I have to say her photograph looks more like some kind of creamy dessert than a dip kind of thing, but nevertheless this seems to be a well recognised recipe.
But you can do other things with it - stuff things, or going back to the out of favour real Greek, George Calombaris, you can mix it with breadcrumbs butter and herbs and use it as a topping for, in his case, grilled mussels, but anything else you can think of really, although I have to say, fish seems to be the most usual partner.
It's probably due for a comeback - I mean what more can you do with hummus?