Bakaliaros Skordalia / Μπακαλιαρός Σκορδαλιά (Fried Salt Cod with Garlic Sauce)

Ahhh dried and salted cod… A bit daunting for some, but loved by many all over the world! Named bacalhau in Portuguese, baccala in Italian, Bakkeljauw in Surinamese/Dutch, morue salée in French, and μπακαλιαρός (bakaliaros) in Greece, this preserved fish has been a popular ingredient in many different cuisines for hundreds of years.


On the 25th of March, Greeks celebrate Independence Day and The Annunciation (Evangelismos in Greek) of the Virgin Mary. This day is one of the few days on which fish is allowed to be consumed during the time of the Great Lent; a period where its custom to abstain from meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Traditionally, on this day Greeks eat a deep-fried, lightly battered salted cod dipped into a garlicky sauce ‘σκορδαλιά’ (skordalia). The recipe for this strong-flavored garlic sauce can be found here.


If you plan on making this dish – it can be eaten throughout the year, don’t worry – I’d advice you to do some research on where to get good quality bakaliaros near you. Sometimes, the fish sold as bakaliaros is not cod at all, but rather a cheaper fish disguised as cod, though usually recognised by its less thicker slices. A real bakaliaros can be recognised by its thick, white meat and a whitish stripe across the body on the skin-side. The price is usually another good indication of a real cod for it’s more expensive – don’t expect your 6 euro per kilogram salted fish to be of the best quality. Also try not to buy the fish when it’s stacked into huge stacks – though they’re often stacked a little, which is fine – as the stacking doesn’t allow the fish to air out properly.

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Another tip: buy your fish few days in advance before cooking… The salted cod should be re-hydrated and desalinated in cold water for about 36 hours, while preferably changing the water 4 or 5 times at least, before it is ready for consumption. Not soaking the fish will leave it so incredibly salty it will not be edible… even for a salt addict like me! Just please remember to pat dry the pieces of soaked fish with some paper towel before frying, else the batter might disintegrate when dropping it into the oil.



The fish can be bought either filleted, or un-filleted and it is said that the un-filleted fish has a nicer flavour… though lazy me prefers to buy the filleted fish as the bones can be a bit of a hassle to remove. If the cod you’ve bought is not a fillet, the bones can either be removed before frying, or left inside and removed whilst eating. Some people also prefer to remove the skin before frying, though I really think the skin is one of the most delicious parts of the fish (or any animal, amiright?).


People also have different preferences for the shape in which the bakaliaros is fried. Some flake the fish and mush it together with some of the batter to create a type of meatball (fishball?) which is then fried. Many, me included, prefer to cut the pieces of fish into rectangles and fry the chunks whole to keep the meat of the fish moist and flakey.



There are also many opinions on how thick the batter the fish is dipped in should be. Some prefer a thick, almost-doughey outside, while others prefer a very thin and airy layer… I opt for something in-between: a crisp outside layer that’s thick enough to hold the fish together, but thin enough to form crispy, airy bubbles – bubbles that are the result of adding both baking powder and beer to the batter. I really love the combination of the amazingly crispy and salty outside and the soft and flakey inside of the fish, especially when eaten with a creamy, garlicky skordalia!


Please note that the recipe below is for small servings (as pictured) for a group of about 8 – 10 people. Greeks usually don’t make bakaliaros skordalia for just one or two people, but often the whole family, or a group of friends is invited to come over and eat! Neither is the dish eaten as a main course (though, you could do so if you wanted to), but it is served as a meze (snack to go with drinks), or as a side together with other dishes.



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  • DF
Deep-fried, battered salt cod
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:40 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Serves:10
  • Freezable:Yes

Nutrition per portion

  • 2 - 2,5 kg salted cod
  • 1,5l sunflower oil for frying
  • 500g flour + some extra for dusting the pieces of cod
  • 500ml cold water
  • 330ml can of beer
  • 20g baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
You can find the recipe for skordalia here.
  1. 36 hours before cooking, desalt the cod in water. Changing the water 4 or 5 times.
  2. When the cod is desalted, cut into pieces about 8cm wide. Put the pieces on some paper towels and pat dry; they shouldn't be too wet.
  3. In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt, then add the beer and cold water. Stir until you've got a smooth, runny batter. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  4. When the batter has rested for 30 minutes, get a high-rimmed frying pan on medium-high heat and add the sunflower oil. To test if the oil is hot enough for frying drip a tiny bit of the batter into it. If it quickly starts bubbling and floating to the top the oil is ready.
  5. One by one dip the pieces of cod into some flour and then into the batter and gently plop them into the hot oil. Try not to overcrowd the pan! Fry the fish in batches.
  6. When the batter crisps up and gets a nice golden-brown color, remove the fish from the pan and place on a plate, or oven-rack with some paper towels to allow the excess oil to drip off. Continue frying the next batches.
  7. Serve bakaliaros with some lovely skordalia, or sauce of your choice!

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