Psari Magioneza, which means fish with mayonnaise, is made by cooking the fish and boiling vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, celery, onion etc., in its broth. After removing the bones from the fish, some of the vegetables are mashed and mixed with the fish with some mayonnaise and a layer of mayonnaise is added on top and decorated with some of the vegetables.
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.
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
- 5 medium carrots, peeled and finely cut (2 of them added whole)
- 1 – 2 sprigs of celery, finely chopped
- 2 medium onions, one finely chopped
- 3 medium potatoes, (one finely chopped)
- 1 tomato, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium beetroot, preserved or roasted
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 2 potatoes
- A few leaves of parsley
- The peel of the tomato (optional)
- 1 cup of homemade olive oil mayonnaise
- Boil, steam or roast beetroot with the skin on until soft. and then peel or use preserved beetroot.
- Peel and wash the vegetables. Reserve the peel of the tomato for the decoration.
- Ask your fish monger to scale and gut the fish. If using frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator, scale and clean the fish. Wash and boil the 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. Set aside to cool before removing the bones or if you are in a hurry, remove the skin and the bones under running water and make sure than even the smallest bones are removed.
- Place the fish in a platter and reserve one cup in order to make the soup.
- Heat the olive oil in a dry sauce pan and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add the chopped vegetables, mix and add the broth, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Also add the other vegetables (potato cut into big chunks, whole carrots and onion). Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover with lid and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Discard the bay leaf.
- Remove the potato chunks and the whole onion and mash them with a fork. Remove the whole carrots and set aside.
- Add the mashed potatoes and onion to the fish and mix with a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and mix all the ingredients. Shape on the platter and cover with the remaining mayonnaise.
- Decorate with the beetroot, carrots, tomato peel, capers and parsley or as you please and place in the refrigerator before serving.
Note: The rose is made by peeling a tomato the whole way round and using the peel, to form the flower. Of course this is just for decoration and it is not edible.
Psarosoupa (Fish Soup)
The leftover vegetables are used to make the fish soup.
There are a few ways to do the soup:
a) Add the reserved fish to the vegetables and using a stick blender, puree them to make a velouté soup.
b) We can add either rice, trahanas (cracked wheat) or tiny pasta to the vegetables and cook them for fifteen minutes. Add 1 tbsp rice for each plate of soup or 1/2 cup trahanas or pasta for the whole soup. Serve with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and freshly grated pepper or a dollop or Greek yoghurt on top.
c) Alternatively, you can make an avgolemono sauce, using 2 eggs and the juice of 1 – 2 lemons (1/4 cup) and add it to the soup.
These and more recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!