Semolina Crusted Pandora With Capers and Kalamata Olives

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IMG_2911-1Living here in Canada and trying to cook Greek food can sometimes be a challenge. Although  I can boast about living in a wonderful and diverse food city like Toronto, not all ingredients are available here for Greek cuisine.

The most glaring void would have to be fresh fish from the Mediterranean. Often, I must settle for a cousin or a related fish to that of it’s European counterpart. One such fish is the red snapper. Many fish today are conveniently labeled as “red snapper”. So, when I see the “real deal” (below photograph) in the market – a Lithrini (red snapper), I’m all over the fish and buy it immediately.IMG_2725-1

The red snapper in Greece is called the Lithrini and in English, it’s the Pandora. It’s part of the sea bream family and  can grow up to 60cm, has a red/pinkish tint and it’s wonderful grilled or baked. In Greece, serving a Lithrini to friends or guests would impress them as it’s a light, flavourful fish and more costly.

With the cool weather here, the grill isn’t as accessible and frankly, I don’t feel like standing outside to grill a couple of fish. A little creativity in the kitchen will reward you with some equally delicious dishes.

Today, I’m sharing my dish which starts out with pan-frying the pandoras and then finishing off the dish in the oven with a wonderful, briny sauce that complements this gold-standard of a fish.IMG_2906-1

Once again, I’m opting for whole fish. A whole fish allows me to inspect the fish for freshness: smell the fish (should only smell of the sea), lift the gills and see if they are a bright red, touch the fish (should be firm and a little slimy) and the eyes should be bright and definitely not cloudy or sunken in.

This recipe is for two (two whole fish). You’ll need a large skillet to fry-off both fish at the same time. Otherwise, fry in batched and place in a large baking dish. You will need a medium-to coarse semolina flour. I chose semolina flour so that the fish’s skin stays crispy. Dredging fish in all-purpose flour and then having it in a sauce won’t cut it. Try semolina flour for dredging, I love crispy skin and the addition of semolina preserves this texture.IMG_2908-1

Beyond the semolina flour, I’ve paired the wish with classic Greek ingredients…fresh rosemary (part of my indoor herb collection), briny capers and Kalamata olives, dry Greek white wine , lemon and parsley.

Semolina Crusted Pandora With Capers and Kalamata OlivesIMG_2910-1

(serves 2)

2 whole Pandora fish (or red snapper or sea bream), cleaned, gutted, scaled

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

approx. 1/2 cup of medium (coarse) semolina flour

coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 bay leaf

2 Tbsp. of capers, rinsed

12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup warm water or vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 Tbsp. of lemon zest + juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives or scallions

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

Pre-heated 375F oven

  1. Prepare your “mise en place” or have all ingredients ready. To pit your olives, I used the spout of a small plastic funnel to poke the pits out. Then you can easily slice them. Rinse your fish and pat them dry. Season with salt (inside & out) and dredge with the semolina flour.IMG_5940-1
  2. Place a large oven-proof skillet on your stove-top over medium-high heat. Drop some semolina flour into the oil to test how hot it is. When it starts to float and sizzle – you’re ready. Fry-off your fish for 6 minutes a side and then remove the fish with a spatula and reserve.
  3. Allow the oil in the skillet to cool and reduce the heat to medium. Add the white wine, the stock, lemon juice and zest, garlic, bay leaf and parsley, capers and olives. Simmer for 5 minutes and then place the fish back in the skillet. Swirl the pan so that the the ingredients surround the fish and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Place in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Carefully take the skillet out of the oven. To check if your fish is done, gently tug on the dorsal fin of the fish. Your fish is ready if the fin gives you little resistance when pulling. Otherwise, place the fish back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Carefully place your fish on a platter and sprinkle with some chopped fresh chives (or scallions), the chopped rosemary and serve with a wedge of lemon.
  6. Serve with baked rice with red peppers and a bottle of Boutari Kallisti 2007.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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31 Comments for “Semolina Crusted Pandora With Capers and Kalamata Olives”

Joanne (GreekJo)


Cool approach to pitting olives…never seen that before. I went out and bought a cherry/olive pitter at Kitchen Stuff Plus…I rarely use it preferring to crush the olive under the flat side of a wide knife blade and fish out the pit…works for me! Have you ever tried coating fish with panko crumbs? Panko crumbs are so delicious, crunchy and light! Semolina coating sounds really good too. I’ve never tried it before.



Peter λατρεύω τα ψάρια και κάθε εβδομάδα, μάλλον κάθε Σάββατο ψήνουμε στα κάρβουνα ψάρια,
Υπέροχο το πιάτο σου!!


Πολύ ωραίο φαίνεται αυτό. Δυσκολά βρήσκεις φρέσκο ψάρι της προκοπής εδώ που μένω, δυστυχώς, και το κατεψυγμένο είναι απαίσιο.


I guess I don’t know my fish very well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a red snapper called Pandora. It sounds like that fish could cause some trouble with a name like that. ;-)

The semolina coating sounds very interesting. I definitely want to try that the next time I cook a red snapper (or reasonable facsimile of one).


i’m sorry peter–i don’t like the look of whole fish on a plate. however, the olive-for-an-eye is five shades of AWESOME.

Maria B.


πολύ ωραιό πητερ και πολύ ωραία η παρουσιασή σου

φιλια πολλα


I’ve prepared tsipores by frying them coated in semolina flour and we always love them that way so I am sure I (and the rest of my gang) would love this dish. Capers and olives are an amazing addition to fish dishes and I am not sure why we don’t see them in recipes more often.


Peter… are you sure that’s not a piranha? look at those teeth! The whole fish isn’t very common on this side of the ocean. I love ordering it in Europe and having the waiter clean it table-side. YUM.


nice tip, peter re: the olives!!! stealing that one and will now call it “the peter”. also, gotta say that this dish looks healthy (yet not too healthy), comforting and briny. i love the flavors and using the semolina to coat it was a stroke of genius. i really love this dish.


Πάντως κι εδώ Peter, θέλει πολύ προσοχή όταν αγοράζεις ψάρι για φρέσκο!
Αψογη η παρουσίασή σου, εξαιρετικό το ψαράκι που ετοίμασες!!!!


Great tip for pitting the olives. I’ll try it next time. I like the way you prepared this fish. For me, being from Québec and living in BC, it’s a challenge, sometimes, to find ingredients to make our meals. I think you would have even more problems finding your Greek ingredients in Comox Valley.


Peter ωραιότατο! Εδώ στο Γιοχάνεσμπουργκ δύσκολα βρίσκει κανείς ολόκληρο ψάρι!
Ακόμα γελάω με το κόλπο για τις ελιές!


GREAT RECIPE! Olive oil, lemon, broth, capers, rosemary: this should be marvelous! I remember learning about lithrinia in Greek school. Anyway, wonderful presentation,the picture with an olive slice over the eye is way cool!


That looks seriously delicious Mr Petah! That’s the essence of mediterranean cooking right there. I think.. one of these days.. i’m gonna invite myself to your table. You don’t mind, do you? Greek people don’t mind last minutes guests, right? :)


I just cooked a whole baby barramundi in foil. I opted out of frying but now i know the trick with semolina flour I will def try it! Great sauce Peter…all looks wonderful!


Well, Hello Mr. Fish! You’re so terribly brave with fish. I won’t go near it unless it’s properly skinned, deboned & isn’t staring at me lol! This looks as delicious as all of your dishes.


The most delicious way to cook/eat fish. Truth be told, Greeks do it best. Interesting olive pitting technique. I use the side of a knife ‘garlic’ technique. Smash!


It looks delicious although I’ve never heard of this fish before. Check out the size of those gnashers! I love the strategically placed olive ;)