Psari plaki, also known as “fish with tomatoes” and “baked fish in a tomato sauce,” is one of the most popular dishes in Greece.
This delicious combination of fish and tomatoes has been around for centuries, but its popularity only grew after World War II when many Greeks immigrated to America.
Since then, it has become an American staple, especially among those who are familiar with Greek cuisine.
It’s even available at fast food restaurants across the country.
What is psari plaki?
This classic dish was created by the ancient Greeks who used to cook this way to preserve fish from spoiling.
The name comes from the word “psaros,” which means “to preserve.”
This dish dates back to the 6th century BC, and it was very common during the Byzantine Empire (AD 324-1453).
The recipe consists of two parts – fish and sauce.
Fish is cooked in a baking tray and covered with tomato sauce.
After that, it’s put under a hot grill until it turns golden brown.
The secret behind this dish lies in the cooking process.
The fish needs to be cooked on both sides before covering it with sauce so it can absorb all the flavors.
In addition to being healthy, this dish has a lot of nutritional benefits such as high fiber content, low fat, and antioxidants.
Furthermore, it contains vitamin B12, which helps your body produce energy and fight free radicals.
On top of all these facts, psari plaki has a long list of health benefits.
Here are some of them:
If you want to try this dish, here’s how to make it.
The history of psari plaki
Psari plaki was originally a dish that was served during Lent, which is observed by Christians every year.
The origin of this dish can be traced back to the early Christian era, when people believed that fish should not be eaten during lent because it was prohibited by the Bible.
So they ate other types of meat instead.
However, as time went on, fish became more popular than meat and eventually, Lent came to an end.
At some point, fish again became a part of the diet, but this time, it was cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
There were two main reasons why this dish became so popular in Greece.
First, the dish itself is very easy to make and requires just five ingredients: olive oil, salt, garlic, fresh herbs (dried or fresh), and red wine vinegar.
Second, since it’s made with fresh ingredients, it tastes fresher than any frozen or canned food.
Psari plaki is traditionally prepared using whole fish like salmon, trout, cod, mackerel, or sardines.
In Greece, there are different ways of cooking these fish depending on their size.
Smaller fish like sardines and mackerel are usually grilled, while larger ones like salmon and trout are usually baked in the oven.
The benefits of eating psari plaki
Psari plaki is made by baking fish fillets in a tomato-based sauce.
The dish is typically served with rice or pasta, but you can also serve it on top of bread slices.
Psari plaki is usually served as a main meal, often accompanied by salad and olives.
It contains rich nutrients that provide health benefits to people of all ages.
Here are some of them:
If you want to eat healthier, you need to start making changes in your lifestyle.
Psari plaki is just one of the many tasty recipes you can try that will help you do just that.
How to make psari plaki
In order to make psari plaki, you will need some fresh ingredients.
The first thing that you should do is clean your fish.
You can use any type of fish you like, but we recommend using white or red snapper because they tend to be milder than other types of fish.
First, prepare the fish by washing it well and patting it dry with paper towels.
Next, season it with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, and cook it on medium heat until it turns opaque.
Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the meantime, sauté the onions in the remaining olive oil on medium heat until they start to turn translucent.
Add the tomatoes, celery, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and stock and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Once the vegetables have softened, add the sugar and cream.
Stir to combine, then remove the herbs and bay leaves.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coat a baking sheet with olive oil spray and gently place the fish on top of it.
Pour half of the tomato sauce over the fish, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
When done, sprinkle the fish with parsley and serve immediately.
The perfect side dish for psari plaki
Psari plaki is best served hot because that’s how you get all the flavor from the sauce, which contains olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
The fish is cooked on top of the tomato sauce, which means that the fish gets completely coated with the sauce.
This is why you should buy your fish fillets very thin so they can absorb all the flavors of the sauce.
You can cook psari plaki using any type of white fish, such as sea bass or cod.
If you want to add some extra color to your fish, use red snapper or blue-eye tuna instead.
You can also try adding other vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, or artichokes to the mix.
When cooking psari plaki, be sure not to overcook the fish.
It should remain moist and tender, but not falling apart.
To do this, you can either use a fish thermometer or just take a peek at the color of the flesh.
If the fish looks firm and bright pink inside, it’s done.
Also, don’t forget to season the fish before putting it into the sauce.
Seasoning helps bring out the flavors of the tomatoes and allows the fish to absorb them better.
To season, sprinkle the fish with salt, black pepper, and dried oregano.
If you want to make your own homemade version of psari plaki, here are a few steps to follow:
1 pound (454 grams) white or red snapper fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cups chopped tomatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups vegetable stock
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup chives, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
2 lemons, thinly sliced
4 sprigs mint
Olive oil spray
Whisk 1 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch until well combined.
Heat up 3 cups of water and add 2 tablespoons of sugar to it.
Put the fish filets in a bowl and cover it with the flour mixture.
Put the bowl of fish filets on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
After the fish has rested for 30 minutes, pour the water/sugar mixture over it and bake it in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, and sauté ½ pound of onion with ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ⅛ teaspoon of ground cloves.
Once the onions have browned, add the remaining ingredients (except for the fish) and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the fish filets and let them cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the fish from the sauce and serve immediately.
The health benefits of psari plaki
As you can imagine, there are plenty of reasons why this dish is so popular.
For starters, it’s extremely easy to make.
You simply need to season your fish with salt and pepper, place it on a baking sheet, pour some olive oil over it, then bake it until it reaches perfection.
That’s pretty much all there is to it!
Not only that, but psari plaki is full of nutrients that will help keep you healthy.
It boosts the immune system because it contains zinc, iron, selenium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
It reduces cholesterol levels.
It improves digestion.
It prevents cancer.
It protects against heart disease.
It fights aging.
High in protein.
Fish is considered to be the best source of protein, so this dish will keep you full longer.
Its high protein content also helps you build muscle mass.
It contains high amounts of protein – about 33 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA).
Protein helps build muscle tissue, which gives you more energy, boosts metabolism, and improves overall health.
Rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential because they help your body maintain healthy cell membranes and reduce inflammation throughout your body.
It contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B1 and B6, potassium, iron, calcium, niacin, and zinc – all essential nutrients that play important roles in regulating blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving mental clarity.
Low in fat.
Psari plaki contains very low amounts of saturated fats, which means it won’t increase your cholesterol levels.
It’s low in fat – just two grams per serving. Fat slows down weight loss, so eating less fat is key if you want to lose weight.
It’s very low in calories – just 150 calories per serving! If you eat too much, you could start feeling sluggish and tired, while not getting enough nutrients.
Good for your heart.
Eating psari plaki regularly can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, stroke, and diabetes.
Good for your bones.
Fish is an excellent source of vitamin D, which is essential for building strong bones.
You should consume at least 2 servings of fish every week to get enough of it.
Good for your brain.
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which protect your brain from damage caused by aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which cause cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Rich in iron.
Iron is important for building red blood cells, which carry oxygen through your body.
If you don’t have enough iron in your diet, you may experience symptoms like fatigue and weakness.
Psari Plaki Recipe
- 1 bowl
- 1 Pan
- 1 pound snapper white or red fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion diced
- 3 cups tomatoes chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¼ cup chives finely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley coarsely chopped
- 2 lemons thinly sliced
- 4 sprigs mint
- Olive oil spray
- 1 egg
- Whisk 1 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch until well combined.
- Heat up 3 cups of water and add 2 tablespoons of sugar to it.
- Put the fish filets in a bowl and cover it with the flour mixture.
- Put the bowl of fish filets on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- After the fish has rested for 30 minutes, pour the water/sugar mixture over it and bake it in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat up 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, and sauté ½ pound of onion with ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ⅛ teaspoon of ground cloves.
- Once the onions have browned, add the remaining ingredients (except for the fish) and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the fish filets and let them cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the fish from the sauce and serve immediately.