So what do you eat while you’re enjoying the sunshine, beaches, shopping, art and architecture of Rhodes? That’s tricky, since Rhodes has all the great Greek masterpieces available, but one thing that is truly Rhodian is pitaroudia. Pitaroudia are big, fluffy chickpea fritters. Think falafel, but irregularly shaped, and mixed with tomatoes, mint, and onions, so a different flavor profile. So while you have your fish and souvlaki and spanakopita and everything else, make sure to try Rhodes’ national dish.
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups onions, very finely chopped
2 tomatoes, grated
1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin (optional)
salt and pepper
olive oil to fry (NOT extra virgin)
Most recipes will tell you to start with dried chickpeas, which you have to soak overnight and then boil for a couple of hours. Look. You’re busy. And they make some very high quality canned chickpeas. The foodies tell me there’s a difference, but honestly, with chickpeas, I can’t tell it. So make it easy on yourself. Start with two good cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, and grind them in a food processor until they’re coarsely ground and kind of mealy.
Then in a big bowl, mix them with 1 and 1/2 cups of very finely chopped onion, 2 medium grated tomatoes - yes grated. It’s a mess, but you want flavor and texture without chunks - 1/4 cup finely chopped mint, and salt and pepper to taste. If you like (and I do), throw in a teaspoon of cumin as well. Then add just enough flour to make a dough that will allow you to make patties that won’t fall apart, approximately 2-3 tablespoons.
Spread more flour onto a large plate and warm up about a quarter inch of oil in a large heavy skillet. This is frying, so don’t use extra-virgin olive oil. Use a frying olive oil with a higher smoke point. If you don’t have olive, use canola or vegetable, but the high smoke point is key. Form a patty in your hands with about 2 tablespoons of the dough, dredge it lightly in flour and fry until golden, flipping once to cook on both sides. You can do a few at a time, but not too many - crowding the pan will lower the temperature of the oil and make them greasy. Remove and drain on paper towels. If you need to add more oil, be sure to let it get fully hot before adding more patties. Serve with a tzatziki dip. Yum.
Adapted from: http://www.dianekochilas.com/chick-pea-fritters-from-rhodes-pitaroudia/
It's big! It's bronze! This week, we'll head to the Greek island of Rhodes, and hear them undergo two separate sieges, one of which led to the mighty and short-lived Colossus. We'll also sample some classic Rhodian food with all the garlic that implies.
Bonus Episode! Turns out there were two Artemisias. In this bonus episode, we take a look at Artemisia the First of Halicarnassus, who was a naval commander in the Persian War at the Battle of Salamis. I'll let our old pal Herodotus explain more.
Swordfish kabobs can be done with any meaty fish if you don’t have swordfish handy. Tuna would work. So would halibut or mahi mahi, probably.
1.25 lbs swordfish (or similar), cut in 1-inch cubes
24 Turkish bay leaves
2 lemons, cut into 8 wedges each, + 1/2 for juicing
2 red onions, quartered
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp crushed Aleppo peppers
salt & fresh ground black pepper
Prepare a charcoal grill to high heat.
Mix the final three ingredients plus the juice of the half-lemon. Let the fish marinate for 10-15 minutes. While it’s marinating, let the bay leaves sit in warm water for 15 minutes to rehydrate.
Thread fish onto skewers, alternating with bay leaves and onion and lemon wedges. Cook over high heat until the fish is cooked through and the onion and lemon get a little charred.
The key to doing this right is threefold: first, don’t overmarinate. I do this way too often, but the acidity starts to “cook” the fish if you leave it too long. So keep to to 15 minutes tops. I’d use maybe a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil plus the juice of half a lemon, maybe a teaspoon of red pepper flakes - use aleppo peppers if you can get them, and some salt and pepper. Really basic. Slice your swordfish or mani or whatever into biggish chunks, marinate them, and thread them onto a skewer.
Tip two: alternate the fish on the skewer with aromatics: onion slices, peppers, lemon wedges, and most importantly, rehydrated bay leaves. This is huge. Just soak some bay leaves in warm water for 15 minutes. The flavor boost is intense.
The third tip is to grill over charcoal. I’m a gas guy because I have kids and very little time to set a fire ahead of time, but if you want maximum flavor, you’re going to want to use charcoal. The smoke helps boost the power of those aromatic veggies and bay leaves. Oh, and use an extra skewer for more veggies: tomatoes, onions, peppers.
Unskewer them over a bed of rice pilaf and enjoy!
Here’s where I adapted this recipe from: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/swordfish-kebabs-with-lemon-and-bay-leaves
And here’s a recipe for awesome rice pilaf: http://www.howtocookeverything.com/recipes/rice-pilaf-seven-ways
This episode, we're heading down the Turkish Coast to Bodrum, formerly called Halicarnassus and home of the long-lost Mausoleum, symbol of should-have-been-forbidden love. We'll also check out the thermal springs at Pamukkale and eat swordfish kebabs!