ALIATHA TIS KEFALONIAS
This is nothing more than the island’s own skordalia, the pungent dipping sauce made with potatoes and lots of garlic. Two things define the Cephalonian version: Aliatha is always made with potatoes and always with fish broth, preferably made from cod bones. It has a strong, acidic flavor since Greeks are not shy about using either garlic or lemon juice in generous quantities. The taste will vary, however, depending on the time of year you make this dish: Inspring, when garlic is fresh, its flavor is delicate; in the fall and winter, garlic is dry and brittle and its flavor harsh and more bitter. Aliatha is a good match on a
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 4 to 5 large waxy potatoes, to taste, scrubbed well
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves, to taste, peeled and crushed
- Salt to taste
- Juice of 2 to 3 lemons, to taste
- 1 to 2 cups fish broth, as needed
- Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1. Boil the potatoes whole in salted water to cover. When they are tender and begin bursting out of their skins, remove the pot from the heat.
2. In a large mortar, crush one or two garlic cloves together with a little salt and lemon juice until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
3. Remove one potato from the hot water and peel quickly. Pound it in the mortar until it becomes part of the garlic paste and drizzle in a little fish broth (about 1/4 cup) and olive oil as you go. Continue doing this, transferring some of the aliatha to a bowl as you go, until all the ingredients are used. The final consistency of the aliatha should be creamy and smooth. It will keep for up to 2 days, covered and refrigerated. After that the garlic starts to turn bitter.
Pounding aliatha, ayiatha, or skordalia in a mortar takes time and energy. You’ll need a large mortar, made of either granite or wood. I prefer wooden ones because they impart another, albeit subtle, flavor component to the finished sauce. If pounding manually isn’t your cup of tea, you can simulate the action by pounding the sauce in a stand mixer withthe paddle mechanism—not the blade, which breaks down the potato or bread too quickly and causes the aliatha to become gummy. That’s why I would never recommend a food processor.