Sardines, Mt. Olympus and the “Gri-Gri” boats of Greece




As I’ve written before, the town Nea Kallikratia where our summer home is located is a vibrant tourist and fishing town.

Nea Kallikratia is located about 3o minutes south of Thessaloniki and it’s situated on the Thermaic Gulf. On a clear day one can see clearly across the Gulf and almost touch Mount Olmypus.

With myself being a big lover of seafood, I feel lucky to spend my summers by the sea to feel the warm sun on my body, cool off in warm waters of the sea and take full advantage of the fresh seafood caught daily from these very seas.

As you know, fishermen closely follow the phases of the moon and fish accordingly. In Nea Kallikratia as the sun sets, one can see the fishing boats (Gri-Gri) head out to sea to seek the day’s catch.

At night, one can see the “Gri-Gri” boats lined up as they lay nets to catch their fish. If you take a close look at the night-time photo I took at this beach bar, you can see one row of lights just above the floating torches placed in the sea by the bar. That row of lights above are the “Gri-Gri”…working all night to bring us the freshest fish.

The next day these fish will go out to tavernas, fish mongers and to those few lucky ones that have a close relationship with the fishermen and reap the rewards of such a friendship.

In Nea Kallikratia, the “Laiki” or farmer’s market arrives into town each Tuesday morning. There, townfolk can buy the freshest of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, seafood, plants, nuts, sweets, spices and dry legumes.

I often will buy seafood on the Tuesday morning from the “Laiki” and one the Mediterranean’s tastiest & healthiest fish has to be the sardine.

This past summer, a recipe from one of my favourite Greek chefs, Dina Nikolau was featured in Gastronomos magazine.

It’s a baked fish dish that has many ingredients but is simple to prepare, healthy and “poli nostimo” (very tasty).

The three stars of this dish are the freshest of sardines, capers and mustard which offers up the tartness in the dish and as good thickener for the sauce.

If you can get a hold of fresh sardines in your area, do buy them and try them out fried, like a ceviche, grilled or in this case – baked.

Baked Sardines With Capers and Mustard
(for 6)

1 1/2 kg. sardines (scaled & gutted)
1 large onion, diced
3-4 scallions, diced
1 cup dry white wine
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. of capers, rinsed & chopped
3 Tbsp. of mustard
1 medium-sized tomato, grated
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. of coarse breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
zest & juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heated 400F oven

  1. Scale, gut and pull the head off your sardines (or have your fishmonger do this for you) then rinse and place the sardines in a baking dish, lining the bottom, side by side.
  2. In a large pot, add your olive oil over medium heat and add your diced onions and scallions saute for a couple of minutes. Now add the garlic and capers and saute for another minute.
  3. Add your wine and simmer for another couple of minutes so the alcohol cooks off. Keep on stirring and then add the grated tomato and mustard and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Take off the heat and add the zest & lemon juice and your chopped parsley. Stir to incorporate.
  4. Pour your sauce mixture over the sardines in the baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs over top.
  5. Bake for about 5-7 minutes and serve hot with some crusty bread and a salad.

© 2008 – 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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63 Comments for “Sardines, Mt. Olympus and the “Gri-Gri” boats of Greece”

Judy@nofearentertaining

says:

Very timely post my friend! I have a bag of sardines and had no idea what I was going to do with them! Now I do. This may be dinner for SUnday!

Marjie

says:

Interesting sardine dish! Love your oceanscape, and, as always, the “back in Greece” photos are wonderful!

Sandie

says:

Love the story, not so sure about the sardines. I can remember my father eating them from a tin when I was a child. The odor was…not pleasant.

Since a sardine has never crossed my lips, I’d be willing to give them a try at least once. Speaking of which, the recipe you’ve included here seems like a mighty fine place to start.

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels

says:

I’m surprised how many Greek-inspired blogs I’m finding…and joyous since I love the Greek cuisine, most particularly the simple grilled fishes. This post actually made my mouth water and the photos took me back to remembering my 2 trips to Greece. Thanks!

Jan

says:

Okay – I now want sardines!
My head is full of Greek food that I want to try….That dish of yours looks GOOD!
Sardines, wine, capers, mustard…….Did you leave some for me? I hope so!

We Are Never Full

says:

fabulous. do i spy real caper berries? i think that should be noted in the recipe only because i bet you real caper berries bring this dish to another level!

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosa's Yummy Yums

says:

A great sardine recipe! It looks delicious!

I went to Thessaloniki and loved that place. Beautiful!

Cheers,

Rosa

kellypea

says:

I’m still envious of your vacation and need to camp out here and catch up on what I’ve missed. This sounds so delicious. I was just looking at a Spanish recipe yesterday with sardines and very similar ingredients except the mustard. Now I have to find some sardines. They only ones I’ve seen around here are in cans…

Aimée

says:

Holy smokes, this dish has Mediterranean written all over it. Thanks for the transporting photos and recipe, Peter!

Farmer Jen

says:

I’ve never had fresh sardines, but would like to try this dish. I like the preparation of the sauce over the baked fish. It sounds very tasty. Perhaps I can find some fresh sardines here in California. Maybe near Monterey. As always, I love your photos.

Leslie

says:

I dont think I have ever had sardines before. hmmmm??
I am pretty sure if I made this dish my whole family would disown me! LOL

Cynthia

says:

Yayyyy! Peter is back! I’ve just been catching up on your posts since your return. Sounds like you had a grand time.

I have never seen or had fresh sardines, I sure would love to.

Hey, don’t hold out on us – fill us in on the details of your filming etc.

PeterMarcus

says:

Oh, man these look good. I’ve never been to Greece, but the best sardines I’ve ever had were in Venice, so I imagine they got them from the same waters. Spectacular!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

says:

Fresh sardines are so delicious! Totally different from the canned variety. I love them fried with bread crumbs and topped with parsley and lemon. Your way is certainly fancier than mine. It looks terrific!

farida

says:

A very interesting post – so enlightening about life in Greece. Guess what! Sardines are my favorite fish!!! Can’t find their taste it any other fish out there. They smell and taste just like real fish:) Your recipe sounds delicious. Yum!

maria

says:

Oh, I can just imagine what dipping crusty bread into that sauce must have tasted like! I most always eat my sardines fried, but sto fourno looks like the way to go. :)

Gloria (Canela)

says:

Aaah Peter!! your pictures of Greece are lovelies, all and this sardines the same. When I was a child we eat a lot of sardines, my grand ma always made them, are so tasty, we live at the south so wehave fresh fishes and seafood all the time, Concepción is close to the sea and fantastic weather too, l these dish.xxGloria

Grace

says:

something about the word “sardine” makes me squirm and i don’t know why. your dish sure looks appetizing enough–very festive presentation! and glorious greece pictures too, of course. :)

[eatingclub] vancouver || js

says:

Love sardines! This dish looks great. If I see sardines (which is very, very rare here), I know how to prepare them. Thanks!

Lori Lynn

says:

So glad to see your posts, Peter. I feel like I’m off to Greece now. Thanks for the vicarious trip…looking forward to more of your recipes and your gorgeous landscape photos!

Natashya

says:

We could use a good fish mongerer here. I chickened out last week on sardines because of the cleaning factor, maybe I’ll find some done down at St. Lawrence Market this week.
I love your photos of Greece, they make me want to go.

ΕΛΕΝΑ

says:

Peter, my husband believes that sardines is the most tasty fish, especially grilled!!
Your dish is fantastic.
As of your photos …. super!!!

RecipeGirl

says:

Hi Peter,
I’ve been catching up on your Greece posts. Sounds like you had a wonderful, relaxing, food-filled time! 5 weeks is a great length for a good vacation.

I still can’t ever consider gutting and cleaning any sort of fish, but I’d be happy to eat it up if someone made it for me!

Prudy

says:

I don’t know if I could really enjoy it when I see the little eyeballs staring up at me. Still, if you like it then I’m sure it’s good. Just blindfold me first, OK?

Astra Libris

says:

Peter, I love when you post sardine recipes, because they inspire me (well, actually, all your posts inspire me… :-) and remind me why I love sardines when I remember to fix them! :-)

I am SO honored and delighted that you tried the artichoke dip recipe! I’m dying to know – what are the additions you included? I’m sure they are scrumptious, and I would love to fix your version next time, and write an updated post (crediting you, of course! :-) Thank you again for trying the recipe!

Zen Chef

says:

Peter, every post i read takes me closer to book a vacation for Greece. Tell me the women are pretty! haha.

Nothing like fresh sardines, i usually have them grilled with a sprinkle of sea salt and a touch of lemon juice but next time i get a batch i might give this a try. It looks great!

Maryann

says:

I like the idea of meeting the fisherman on the shore after their evening of fishing. We used to do that with the shrimp boats down south on our vacation. Hope you are all settled in now :)
btw-the carbonara looks delicious!

Johanna

says:

I saw that on Gastronomos and it looked really good. BTW Gastronomos is out today, with biftekia as the main theme.Its a very thin issue (because everyone was on holiday)!

Angela

says:

This looks like the perfect dish to eat on the beach under an umbrella with a glass of cool white wine and some crusty bread. Enter: ocean breeze. Ahh… Brilliant recipe; thanks!

Helen

says:

Sardines are one of my absolute favourite fish but the only time I seem to eat them is in summer on the bbq. I love the idea of baking them with these strong flavours though. I also love that picture of all the fresh sardines for sale – that is beautiful.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

says:

VERY pretty! Were they little so you didn’t have to mind the bones, or did you just pick through them?

Antonio Tahhan

says:

Peter whenever I go to Greece you have to come with and show me around!! It seems like you know ALL the Greek secrets!
I am new to the DC area so I have not yet found a good fishmonger, but I will have to be on the look out for fresh seafood : )

Paula

says:

Oh, Peter, I love sardines! This looks just outstanding. Alas, I’m surrounded by non-sardine fans, but that won’t stop me from trying this! I’ve never had them prepared with mustard, so this would be a new flavor sensation for me. Love the photos from Greece. I bet you miss it already!

Sam Sotiropoulos

says:

Simply tremendous Peter! Sardines are right up there for me… In my family, these are usually dusted with flour and fried then sprinkled with some lemon juice, but my mother occasionally bakes them as well so I have had a similar dish and it is quite tasty. Though I still prefer them fried, I am sure your baked sardines were excellent!

noobcook

says:

sounds like an awesome place to be … I love sardines, and we only had canned ones here, but still tastes good 2 me!

Dhanggit

says:

hi peter!! i didnt know you are back in to blogging!! seems your vacation went fabulous!! this sardine recipe is absolutely delicious!

Núria

says:

Scrolling down your comments takes ages, Chico ;D!!!

I do love sardines and fresh ones are super, no matter how we cook them their meat is so tasty and healthy! Great way to bake them… should try your way. Meanwhile I have some in a pickle in my fridge. Viva el Mediterraneo!!!!!

Peter M

says:

Judy, the dish went down really well, even with the conservative parents.

Heather, sardines for brekkie?

Marjie, feel transported?

Ben, maybe you should.

Allen, fresh sardines are of the best in seafood…really.

Sandie, no comparison to the tinned ones…open mind and stomach here.

Foodlogue, welcome…Greek food’s been around awhile…it’s time for it to shine.

Kat, damn str8!

Nina, grilled sardines are tops but this is a great alternative too.

Antonia…you know your sardines.

Jan, it was a satifying, delish dish.

Never full…yep, capers!

Rosa, Thessaoliki is a wonderful city, thanks.

Kelly, hold out..the canned ones are nowhere near the fresh ones.

Pete, no probs…more sardines for us.

Jen, chances are you’ll have an easier time finding them on the east coast.

Glam, I might go to my greek fish huys and see what they got.

Giz, you can pick out everything…wow!

Leslie, try incorporating more seafood in the family’s diets…try sardines later.

Cynthia, you luv seafood and you’ll adore sardines.

Petemarcus, yep…they are found throughout the Mediterranean…damn good eh?

Sticky, us greeks usually have them fried or grilled too.

Farida, sardines have become one of my fave fish too!

Maria, fried or grilled and now “sto fourno” is another option.

Gloria, delighted to hear there are sardines in Chile!

Thanks Darius!

Grace, I like squirm…here..catch a sardine!

Ivy, very true…they don’t know what they are missing.

JS, they are hard to come by here but they show up on occasion.

Lori Lynn, enjoy the ride!

Jen, glad you like…more to come.

Natashya, don’t…despite their small size, they are easy to clean and eat.

Elena, your hubby’s right…when gilled, sardines really shine.

Lori, ask the fishmonger to clean fish for you…a little flirting will get it done for free!

Kristen, they taste as good as they look…c’mon now!

Prudy, you should see when the sardine winks at you b4 you eat it!

Astra, glad you love sardines and I’ll post on the dip soon.

Zen, Greece has godess-like women, great beaches, wonderful nightlife and delicious food to fuel the vacation. Sold?

Maryann, almost settled in…good to hear from ya!

Ioanna, you and I like Dina…she’s great and thanks for the heads-up on G.

Angela, emphasis on the crusty bread!

Helen, grilled are best but this is a good cool weather alternative.

Hank, these sardines weren’t that small but the spine bone came out very easily and then…gulp!

Tony…you got it and as for DC…you’re near the sea…has to be several.

Paula…have them all to yourself…they don’t know what they are missing!

Sam, I think fried and greek sardines are enjoyed througout Greece. The “fourno” option is now the 3rd way, if you will.

Noob, look out for fresh ones and try them. You might not eat the canned ones again.

Hi Dhanngit…I’m back and still making my way through blog catch up.

Thanks david…you’re very open with your food tastes.

Nuria…VIVA! One of the best, simplest and healthiest fish…OLE!

Marianna

says:

hehe, I have to say- in relation to your fig post- that fresh sardines and canned sardines is like night & day! I much prefer fresh sardines, and the way you present it here is very appetizing. Plus, as you say- sardines have full of health benefits.

Jeanne

says:

Again, an embarrassing admission, but I’ve never cooked sardines!! Mea culpa. I would like to, though, as they are sustainable and very healthy. Love your recipe as there is nothing that can’t be improved by capers :) Your photo of the boats reminded me of the lights from the chokka (squid) boats bobbing on the night sea every night of the season in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

Nik

says:

I knew I recognized that view of Mt. Olympus! My mom was born and raised in Nea Kalikratia and I’ve spent quite a few summers there. My wife and I were just there this past July. The beach bar with the floating candles was actually pretty hip, although its funny seeing the dudes who have to wade out into the water every evening and drag the candles out there.

Anyway, it definitely made me smile to see pictures of Kalikratia!

Nik
Baltimore, MD

Peter M

says:

Marianna, fresh sardines are awesome.

Jeanne, you’ll wonder what you waited after you taste them.

Nik, that’s amazing! Our home is in Kallikratia and I know the owner of tha beach bar well (Sava). I’m there in August and do email me if you’d like to meet up there next time you’re in Greece.