Bakaliaros Plaki is a cod casserole that is traditionally served in Greece on March 25, alongside other cod dishes.
Another popular recipe is fried cod with skordalia, a creamy paste made out of garlic. But we will leave this for another time.
Salted cod* is normally used for this casserole but we find the time needed to remove the salt very inconvenient. So, we normally use either fresh cod that we get our fishmonger to fillet or frozen cod fillets.
In order to make things even simpler, in recent years we have adopted this recipe by much-loved chef Lefteris Lazarou. It’s not only delicious but you only need to use one casserole dish, so there is much less washing and messing about.
The recipe calls for vegetable broth. Even though we’d love to say we are organised enough to keep homemade vegetable stock in our freezer, this is simply not the case. Instead, we either use half a stock cube or the water from steamed or boiled vegetables – if we happen to boil any in the hours before cooking this dish. If neither is available, we just add some plain water.
Bakaliaros Plaki for March 25th
The truth is we have absolutely no idea why this dish is served on this particular date. On March 25th Greece celebrates the beginning of its independence war. Religious Greeks also celebrate the Annunciation. But neither event seems to feature cod in any way.
In any case, even fasting for Lent makes allowances for cod on March 25th.
This is a super easy and delicious recipe!
*If you do decide to use the traditional salted cod, you need to plan ahead to remove the salt. This is what you need to do: at least 30 hours before you start cooking, fill a large bowl with fresh water. Submerge your cod fillets. Make sure they are very generously covered with water. A few hours later use a colander to drain the fillets. Wash them under the tap and repeat the process again. You need to do this at least 5 times in the 30 hours before you use your cod.