Ceviche octopus sandwich with red bell pepper and caper

Ceviche octopus sandwich with red bell pepper and caper

A traditional Portuguese dish with a twist!

It's almost a month since we returned from Madeira and I already started reminiscing the island's indolence, the steep cliffs and the gigantic tropical trees. But what I miss the most are the irrestistable Portugese dishes; red fish soups, roast beef, tropical fruits in every corner and the ceviche fish and seafood.

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Make easily salted fish: sardines and anchovies for ouzo meze trays

Make easily salted fish: sardines and anchovies for ouzo meze trays | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

If you have Greek friends or you have been in a good amount of Greek dinners you may noticed that whenever ouzo or tsipouro (strong drinks, drank before main courses to enhance appetite) are served fish meze dishes (small dishes of appetizers) come along. You never probably took the time to think why, or you did and you concluded that Greece has sea all around her, so fish accessible almost everywhere (true too). Well the reason is that the saltiness of salted or non seafood blocks the taste of bitterness ( of the alcoholic drink) in the tongues's taste buds. Thus your brain receives stronger salty signals, which are much more pleasant than the bitter ones, right? Over time, ouzo and seafood are customarily served side by side on the table and make the forks to dance under the rhythm of ouzo-discussions.

So next time you have people over and ouzo appears on the table, make sure that you have some salted fish meze dishes to accompany it, eg like salted anchovies or sardines. You can make them yourshelf,  extremely easily and quickly (sardine takes 4 hours to be ready for corrosion!).

Make easily salted fish: sardines and anchovies for ouzo meze trays | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

For the anchovies:
Remove the back bone and the head, as I showed you here, and open the fish like ... a mat. In a colander with a plate beneath it (for fluid drainage) array the fish fillets in between layers of coarse salt until all fish are covered with salt and leave them like that for 2 hours. After that, rinse the salt off and place them in a bowl with white vinegar (of good quality) for 2 more hours. After that are basically done, so rinse them again in water, drain it well on paper towels and array the fish in a glass bowl cover them with olive oil and add also spices of your choice. In this condition you can keep the anchovies in the fridge almost indefinitely. Whenever you want to serve them, take some off the olive oil and just serve them in a plate. Easy peasy.

For the sardines:
As sardines are bigger, they need slightly more time in the salt. So with that said, decapitate and clean the bellies of the fish from all the guts without removing the spine. In a colander (for drainage) array the sardines between layers of coarse salt until they are all covered by salt. Leave them like that for 4-5 days and after this, the fish are basically ready to eat. In order to serve them, take them off the salt and let them rest in the water for half an hour, so that the excess salt goes off the fish. Serve them with olive oil, white vinegar, oregano and other herbs if you have a preference. (Two observation on this point: the sardines are becoming more salted when staying in salt, so if you keep them like that for a lot more extra days, make sure to increase the time in the water too. Also, the salt acts as a natural preservative so the fish don't need to stay in refrigerator while being covered with salt.)

You can accompany you fish meze dishes and your ouzo with Greek salad, olives, pickled purslanes, pilaf with wild greek greens, cuttlefish with spinach or anything else that talks to your heart.

Also here's an interesting video on how overfishing 4 large fish groups (salmon, cod, tuna and shrimp) destroys the ecosystems, pushing to extinction the endemic fish of every region. Prefer local fish that don't have to be transferred from the other side of Earth, they are delicious and full omega-3 fats (yes I know, my meze tray has smoked salmon too. You got me! :D)

Happy ouzo-situations and feel free to share any favorite appetizers with yours that go along with strong drinks. xo


Déspina Kortesidou

Déspina Kortesidou was born with the April flowers sometime in the '90s in the sunny peninsula of Greece. She is a graduating master student of neuroscience & metabolism, and a born adventurer.

(3rd person statements sound so official, love it)

She founded In Whirl of Inspiration, back in 2011 when she was (just) a biology student, in the island of Crete. In Whirl of Inspiration started as a creative and writing outlet for when studying molecules, became too monotonous. Recently, she started writing a children book and a not-so-children's book about the civil war in Greece. She has a soft spot for cheese, elder people, and (her own) jokes, but can't tell any as she ruins them by laughing too early. She enjoys sharing advice for eating healthier, or inspiring people to cover themshelves with plants, color and confetti.

Feel free to email her at hello@inwhirlofinspiration.com, or find her on Instagram and Twitter. (breaking the 3rd person narration to thank you properly)

Thank you so much for reading!