Fish is one of the healthiest foods in the modern diet with Omega 3 fatty acids. It is high in protein and important vitamins, and, of course, it is low in fat.
Cypriot cuisine has been influenced through the centuries by the many conquerors. The most important influence though, came by the ancient Greeks. Since ancient Greeks came to the island, until nowadays, Greek language and Greek civilization and culture are dominant on the island. Most of the Cypriot recipes are similar to the Greek ones but as in many other parts of Greece, there are a few differences in the ingredients used.
Cyprus cuisine has also been influenced by the Persians, the Arabs, the Latins, the Turks, the British, the Armenians and the Maronites and believe me, many more. Some of these recipes are now considered as traditional and Fish Mayonnaise is one of them, which we used to do often when we had buffet dinners.
You have all probably heard of the Greek Mediterranean Diet. Researches have shown over the past forty years that the Greek traditional diet is one of the healthiest of the whole world. Despite our very bad habits, (low physical exercise and too much smoking), Greek men have the highest survival age in Europe (75 years) and women are fifth in Europe (80,3 years).
It has been established that the consumption of olive oil is very healthy as it lowers the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. This is due to the fact that olive oil has high concision of natural antioxidants and nourishing compoments (e.g. polyfenoles, flavonoidi, carrotins etc.).
A correct and balanced nutrition necessarily contains olive oil on a daily basis. The essence and taste, which gives to all foods, is unique. However, let’s not forget that like all oils, olive oil as well, is a fat and must be used in moderation. The oils contain fatty acids, which can be separated in three kinds: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The animal fats contain mostly saturated fat acids, the seed oils polyunsaturated, while the olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fat acids up to 83%. The oleic acid, the main component of olive oil, comprises such a monounsaturated fat acid.
As the main source of monounsaturated fat acids, the olive oil helps:
- The lower of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in blood.
- The maintenance in the blood of “good” cholesterol (HDL).
- The good function of the intestine.
- The prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the protection of the organism from the coronary disease due to the strong antioxidants it contains.
- The cure of gastric and duodenum ulcer, as it eases the digestion.
- The decline of the gastric juices.
- The best immersion of calcium by the organism.
- The correct metabolism of diabetics and consequently the balance of the diabetes rates.
- The prevention from cancer.
- While last but not least … it revitalizes the skin.
The information given above have been translated from a Greek site inCardiology.Gr (their link has been removed) and I wanted to justify the use of mayonnaise, which is considered by many people as not healthy. I have also drawn and translated the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid where you can see the structure of this diet.
The fish mayonnaise is made by boiling vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and beetroot and fish. The fish is cleaned from skin and bones and is mixed with some of the vegetables and an olive oil mayonnaise.
Psari Magioneza (Fish with Mayonnaise)
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
- 1 ½ kilos (3.30 lbs) of fresh or frozen fish suitable for soup, I use red frozen fish
- 3 medium carrots, peeled
- 1 – 2 sprigs of celery
- 1 medium onion
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium beetroot, boiled
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 2 potatoes
- A few leaves of parsley
- 1 cup of homemade olive oil mayonnaise
- Boil beetroot with the skin and then peel or use preserved beetroot.
- Ask your fish monger to scale and gut the fish. If using frozen, thaw from the previous night, scale and clean the fish. Wash and boil fish for 10 – 15 minutes. If any froth forms remove it with a slotted spoon and add salt. When done remove it to a colander and strain the broth. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion and celery and boil until soft.
- Under running water remove skin and bones from the fish and make sure than even the smallest bones are removed.
- Place fish in a platter. Mash the potatoes and onion and mix with a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise and the fish. Add salt and pepper and mix all the ingredients. Shape on the platter and cover with the remaining mayonnaise.
- Decorate with the beetroot, carrots, capers and parsley or as you please and place in the refrigerator before serving.
- The rose is made by peeling a tomato the whole way round and using the skin to form the flower. Of course this is just for decoration and it is not edible.
Psarosoupa (Fish Soup)
Leftover fish broth may be used to make Psarosoupa (fish soup) or used as stock in other fish recipes, instead of water.
During winter I make a soup out of the broth.
After removing the fish to make the mayonnaise, strain the broth to make sure that no bones have remained and add a few tbsp extra virgin olive oil. For each cup of broth, add 1 tbsp carolina rice (or other rice suitable for soups).
Add the peeled tomato, which was used for decorating the mayonnaise, after blending it. Cook the rice for about 15 minutes, add salt and pepper. Mash the boiled potato and onion, add them to the soup and cook for five more minutes
Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and freshly grated black pepper on top. Alternatively, you can make an avgolemono sauce to add to the soup.
These and more recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!