Thursday, 25 March 2010

SKORDALIA/ SKORTHALIA (Greek Potato - Garlic Sauce)

The Greek sauce that's named skordalia (from the word skordo, σκόρδο, meaning garlic) is a thick sauce somewhat similar to aioli. It's made with garlic, olive oil and some type of bulking agent such as potatoes, walnuts, almonds or bread. The bulking ingredients vary by locality, but the garlic itself is always present.
Skordalia is a favourite accompaniment to salt cod (bakaliaros), and other types of fish. It's also served with fried or boiled vegetables. It's tantalizing and delicious, but beware: the amount of garlic used is plentiful, so don't eat skordalia if you're planning a romantic tête-à-tête after dinner. My maternal grandmother, as I have often been told, always made her skordalia by using walnuts to bulk it up. However, the most popular version is made with potatoes. I make my potato skordalia by using lemon plus two types of vinegar: white balsamic and white wine. This acidic combination lends a fruity delectable taste that elevates the humble skordalia to a whole other level. Here's the recipe:

  •  3 potatoes (should add up to little more than a pound)
  •  2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  •  1/2 cup olive oil
  •  juice of one lemon
  •  2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  •  ground black pepper to taste
  • salt is optional
  • Parsley, well chopped, to sprinkle on top
  • One scallion sliced very thinly to sprinkle on top (optional)


  • Peel the potatoes cut them into pieces and place them in a saucepan. Cover them with water, and boil them until soft. Drain but reserve some of the water to use if necessary.
  •  Mash the potatoes by hand. 
  • In a food processor puree the garlic. 
  • FLASHBACK: today most everyone uses a food processor, but I remember as a child watching an aunt prepare garlic for skordalia by mashing it up with a pestle in her beautiful marble mortar. I was completely fascinated and I wanted that mortar and pestle for my toy box! She didn't let me play with it even though she was otherwise very kind ... Well, flashbacks are fun! 
  • To the processor, add the oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Mix it well. 
  • Slowly pour the garlic/oil mixture onto the potatoes, mixing all the while. 
  • The skordalia should be thick and soft. If it is too lumpy add some of the reserved water and mix to soften it.
  • Season with pepper as needed. 
  • Skordalia should have a garlicky taste. Use as much garlic as you are comfortable using. No more and no less.