How beneficial and nutritious the fish are it is known to everyone. What perhaps is not well known is how to cook delicious fish for the whole family. The monks who are in charge of the cook’s work at Mount Athos specialize in fish and seafood because of the Athonite diet which does not include meat. Monk Epiphanios from Mylopotamos gives us a traditional recipe for grouper from Mount Athos. Try it and offer your loved ones a fine meal.
Ingredients (8 to 10 servings)
2 kilos of fresh groper (filleted)
4 large onions, finely chopped (or onion juice)
5 to 6 cloves of garlic (peeled)
5 lemons (about 250 grams of juice)
450 grams of olive oil
Whole black peppercorns
(a bit of ground pepper as well)
A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
We clean the grouper by scaling it and removing the guts and the gills and we fillet it to a thickness of about 5- 6 centimeters. Then we wash the fillets well, rinse away all the blood, wash them again and then place them in a colander to drain. We salt the fillets using coarsely ground salt. Our fish must remain in salt for 3 to 4 hours at least, or it can be prepared from the previous day. In the latter case, we keep the grouper in the refrigerator (in a colander) placing a container (usually a pan) underneath to catch and contain the liquids.
Attention! Do not remove the skin of the grouper.
In older days copper pans were used (flat and shallow), but today we find them only as decorative items and aluminum pans are used instead. I insist on aluminum pan (called tavas, a flat and shallow pot) and not a deep pot or some other kind of stainless steel container, because the food will stick to the bottom.
Place the grouper fillets in the pan in such a way that the bottom of the pan is completely covered. It is good to place the head of the grouper alongside the fillets, which makes the fish tastier and thickens the sauce better. Then place the pan on a hot stove. Add cold water until the fish is well covered, but no more, or the broth will not thicken. When it starts boiling, skim it with a slotted spoon and add the onions which we have cut into very thin slices, the garlic (whole cloves), and at the same time the olive oil.
In order to get better results, you can previously make onion juice from the onions (see below). In this case, after you have placed the fish in the pan, pour the onion juice over it, which must be cold, and add cold water as previously mentioned.
Add the peppercorns and let the fish boil over high heat for about an hour. Then lower the heat by half and shake the pan once in a while (without stirring the pieces with a spoon) so that the fish does not stick. Gradually, the sauce reduces and starts thickening.
Be careful, I remind you, especially as the end approaches, not to let the fish stick to the pan.
Pour the lemon juice into the pan 30 seconds before you remove the food from the heat. As soon as you take it off the heat, add the ground pepper and the chopped parsley if you wish, and cover the pan with its lid for about 30 minutes.
The food is always served using a flat spoon (so as not to break the fish) in a platter or directly onto the plates and then the sauce is poured carefully over the fish. It is eaten warm because when it cools the sauce thickens.
Take the assigned number of onions required for the specific recipe you are following, peel and wash them. Cut them into large pieces. Boil them over a hot fire in plenty of water for at least one hour. Once this mixture has cooled, pulp over the onions and their liquid using a juice or a blender, this will give you a thick liquid. This is onion juice.
*From the book “The Cuisine of the Holy Mountain Athos” by the Monk Epiphanios of Mylopotamos