Mediterranean oven baked fish with tomato sauce and paprika

Mediterranean oven baked fish in tomato sauce and paprika

Photo and text by Panos Diotis and Mirella Kaloglou.

Calories (per serving): 
405
Servings: 
Preparation Time: 
Cooking Time: 

 

Is it really October?

It’s early October as we’re writing this post, and looking back, with the exception of short periods of rain, the last month has been practically another summer month. It takes a while for Autumn to get here. Lots of sunshine, high temps and people rushing to the beaches, especially on the weekends, to get some comfort.

In the last few days though, the temperature dived about 10 degrees, and now we all feel that it’s really October.  Lower temps mean we can concentrate easier on things we enjoy at home. One of them is cooking. Another is blogging. Like we’re happily doing now.

Visit to Epidaurus 

One of the things we especially enjoyed this summer, was a daily visit to Ancient Epidaurus. It’s one of the places we always wanted to visit, that’s also close to Athens, but for some strange reason, we never had so far.

So, at the beginning of our summer vacation, one morning we woke up early, had a small breakfast and drove to Epidaurus. After using the highway, there’s a hilltop road (paved of course) for about an hour, but the scenery with the olive trees and then the pine trees make the trip enjoyable. The day that we visited was windy, which was great, as it helped us to cope with the high temps.


Arriving at Ancient Epidaurus, we bought a ticket which is valid for visiting everything at the site. We visited the Ancient Theatre, which is still operational today, with performances every summer and thousands of spectators.

The theatre can accommodate up to 15.000 spectators and was constructed in the 4th century BC. The amazing thing about this site is the unique acoustics. The theatre is constructed in such a way that one can hear perfectly what the actors say on the stage, regardless of one’s sitting and without using amplifiers.


We loved the great Stadium they also built nearby, where many competitions took place in antiquity, mostly to honor the god Asclepius. It was really impressive and preserved in great state.


Little Cooking Tips - Ancient Theater of Epidavros


Near the theatre, there’s a wide flat place with many ruins. In these ruins one can see what’s left of the walls of the -once glorious- Asclepeion. The Asclepeion was a sanctuary devoted to the healer-god Asclepius, son of Apollo. It was a sacred and highly spiritual place, where ill people came to get advice for their ailments. Healing mineral springs nearby were believed to help one cure and the priests guided and helped the sick with various practices.


At its height, there were so many people visiting, that they also built a huge restaurant/banquet hall, called hestiatoreion (to this day the word means restaurant in Greek) with a majestic entrance, right next to the Asclepeion, to feed all the visitors. If you’re following us on Instagram you might’ve seen our relative Story :)


Little Cooking Tips- Ancient Epidavros


We loved the great Stadium they also built nearby, where many competitions took place in antiquity, mostly to honor the god Asclepius. It was really impressive and preserved in great state.

Finally, we visited the marbles and the statues in the Museum. It was a great collection, and we loved reading ancient Greek and understanding some of the sentences. So wonderful to be able to communicate through time with the people who lived there thousands of years ago, isn’t it? The building of the Museum was rather outdated though; definitely, needs a renovation and lights. We hope someone will take a look at this at some point.


Sun and sea

After spending a few days in Athens (we also visited the Zoo which is close to the Athens airport and had a lot of fun!), of course, we went to Evia, to visit our favorite Aegean beaches and enjoy the garden of Panos’ parent's house in the country.


We went to Korasida, Cheromylos and of course, Mourteri/Agios Merkourios. These three beaches are among our favorites, and we try and visit them every year. Especially the last one, which is a 5km long beach, with very few visitors, so you can enjoy the sea without any noise or people close to you if looking for a calm place. The first half of the beach is called Mourteri, and the second half is called Agios Merkourios. A cliff divides the beach in two, separating the more touristically developed Mourteri from, the more deserted, but calmer Agios Merkourios.


Little Cooking Tips_ Evia beaches


When we want to visit these beaches, we keep an eye on the weather, to see which days the winds are not so strong, as these beaches are exposed to northern winds, and there are a lot of waves on windy days. If you ever visit Evia and want to swim there, here’s a tip: a great indication for the waves is the weather of Kymi ( a nearby town). Also, always visit early in the morning when the winds are low.


This summer we used a lot our diving masks and snorkels. This way, we had a lot of fun observing the amazing marine flora and fauna in the area. The waters on the Aegean side of Evia are crystal clear, and you can see beautiful cuttlefish on the sandy or pebble bottom, shells, shellfish, and sea urchins on rocks; and of course, a plethora of fish :) It was truly magical diving in these blue waters.


The organic garden

As we mentioned many times before, one of the things we love about visiting Evia is the fact that Panos’ parents have a big organic garden there. Even though during the summer people don’t cook as much as in the winter, there’s so much produce there, you can’t help it trying out new recipes, new ways to enjoy it.


As you have probably guessed, we made countless Greek salads, fried huge stacks of zucchini fritters, dipped them in tons of tzatziki,  baked pans and pans with gemista, had a lot of kagianas for breakfast or lunch, made moussaka when in need for comfort food, used the eggplants with pasta or made melitzanosalata and went on and on. We couldn’t and wouldn’t stop, as long as there was produce in the baskets :)



What we wouldn’t use, we sliced, grated, chopped and did whatever necessary to preserve for the winter. So now our freezer is full of in-season-out-of-season frozen produce. :) And that’s a great practice for everyone, in order to enjoy tasty veggies. Buy them when in-season, and especially when on sale, chop or grate and freeze in ziplock bags. This way, you can make a magnificent marinara in the middle of the winter, with the flavors of an August’s tomato. Isn’t that great?


In the evenings, we loved sitting on our veranda to enjoy a cantaloupe, a watermelon, some apricots or peaches, and -in late August- some grapes and figs. Figs are so awesome. If you never had them before, buy a few when in season and eat fresh, preferably on the same day. You really have to try them: soft and silky on the outside, with dark red, soft flesh on the inside and crunchy tiny edible seeds. Just cut one in quarters and put it on some Greek yogurt. Drizzle then with honey: heaven! It’s the perfect dessert, plus it’s super healthy!


One pan baked fish

During the summer, people don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. That’s understandable, with all the outdoor activities one can enjoy during the season. So, one pan, easy recipes, are a perfect choice. Since we shared our summer memories in this post, we thought we should share one of the one pan recipes that only need a few minutes to prepare. Plus now that it’s October, you probably have a ton of things to do on weekdays, right?


And this is one of the easiest fish recipes out there. A dump and bake, one-pan baked fish that we make very often on weekdays, when the time is precious, being busy with all day-to-day activities and our household.



Fish is a great source of lean protein, and also contains a lot of heart-healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids) that are good for one's heart. So, pairing it with a vinaigrette lettuce salad or brown rice it makes for a complete, filling AND healthy meal. Isn’t that great?


As mentioned, one of the things we love about this baked fish recipe is that it’s very easy and therefore convenient. You don’t need a lot of prep time. You simply turn on the oven, prepare the onion and the tomato, mix the ingredients for the sauce, dump it in a pan, dip the fish steaks in it and then lay them over and bake. As simple as that! And while it’s baking, you can prepare the salad or the rice (or both).



We call this recipe “Mediterranean fish” and not “Greek fish”, even though it does contain ingredients used it the Greek cuisine, just like in this very old “fish plaki” recipe on the blog (Please excuse us for the terrible photo, it was published years ago when we first started blogging LOL).

The reason for not calling this recipe “Greek”, is the secret ingredient: smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is a classic ingredient in the Spanish cuisine, not the Greek one. It’s a spice we love to use in many of our recipes (like in mac 'n cheese for instance), and has a very distinct, unique flavor. You can also use smoked Hungarian paprika, of course, that’s equally delicious; whichever is available around your area.



The type of fish we suggest using in this recipe is any large white fish. Fish steaks or fish fillets cut into large pieces would both work excellent. We have tried this with cod, haddock, swordfish and large sea breams. You can use whichever you prefer or is on sale. The sauce will provide all the flavor in this recipe, so don’t hesitate to buy a cheaper, more affordable piece of white fish.


Frozen fish steaks work well too, but make sure to thaw them properly. Place them (covered with film) in a bowl in your fridge, and let them thaw for up to 24 hours. Then rinse, and pat dry with kitchen towels. You will need a lot of towels, as frozen fish is watery. But it will work just as well as fresh. Perhaps it will take a little time more to bake, that’s all.



The combination of the smoked paprika with the extra virgin olive oil and the oregano is amazing. Plus, adding a good wine will enhance the flavors, creating a delicious dish. Make sure to dribble some of the juices from the pan on top of the fish when serving it. And a little extra virgin olive oil as well. 

So, let’s see how you can make this easy fish in the oven!


Ingredients: 


- 3-4 fish steaks or fish fillets (cod, haddock, swordfish) cut into large pieces, about 1Kg / 2lb
- 1 medium sized tomato, 250-300gr / 9-10oz
- 1 medium-sized onion, 130-160gr / 4.5-5.5oz, finely chopped or sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60ml) white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme (or 1/2 tablespoon fresh)
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika, preferably smoked
- salt, pepper
- a little finely chopped parsley to garnish (optional)



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Preparation:

Rinse and pat dry your fish steaks (or fillets). If using frozen fish, thaw in the fridge for 24hours, and then pat dry with a lot of kitchen towels, as it’s quite watery. Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each steak.


Grate the tomato (pic. 1) and strain it, using a fine sieve (pic. 2) to remove some of the water.


Add the tomato in a large bowl and add the olive oil (pic. 3) and the wine (pic. 4).


Add the thyme, the oregano and the paprika (pic. 5), salt and pepper, the onion and the garlic (pic. 6).


Mix well with a spoon (pic. 7) and empty the bowl’s contents in a baking dish, large enough to accommodate your fish steaks (pic. 8).


Press each fish steak into the sauce, flip and lay on top (pic. 9). The steaks will look like the ones in the pic.10.

Bake in a convection oven, at 200C / 390F for 30-40 minutes (depending on the thickness of the steaks and whether they’re fresh or frozen and thawed – in which case they’re usually waterier).


The fish is ready when most of the liquid has evaporated. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, to allow it to absorb the flavors of the surrounding gravy.


Serve with a simple vinaigrette-lettuce salad or rice. You can also serve this with French fries, if not looking for a healthier option :) Dribble the juices and some extra virgin olive oil on top for extra flavor.

Kali oreksi!


Tips: 

1. As mentioned, if using frozen fish, thaw for 24 hours in a bowl in the fridge and then pat dry with kitchen towels. Makes sure it’s dry enough, as frozen fish tends to be watery.

2. You can use cod, haddock, swordfish, sea bream or any other firm white flesh fish for this dish. Skip tuna or salmon in this recipe.

3. Try to get some high quality smoked paprika for this. It will define the flavor of the dish. You can use it in countless other recipes as well: in stews, to rub chicken or steaks for grilling, you can sprinkle it with salt on fries, you can use it in dips/sauces …you get the picture :)

4. You can try this dish with fresh, finely chopped fennel fronds (or dill) and skip the thyme, the oregano, and the paprika. It’s a different, equally delicious variation that’s better served with French fries.


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