SKORDALIA – the Sicilian scurdalia

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The skorthalia (skordalia) I am familiar with, is Greek in origin (originally called scoradalme, from scoradon, Greek for garlic). The modern versions are made mainly with potatoes, oil and garlic. The garlic with salt is placed in a mortar and using a pestle it is pounded into a paste.

This Sicilian scurdalia is made with bread, potatoes and almonds and I suspect its origins may be Greek, however, picada (Catalan garlic sauce) and ajo blanco (from southern Spain) are very similar. I think these examples help to illustrate how Sicilians may have responded to the flavours and inspirations of the different people who settled in Sicily but added their particular twists to make it their own – much like we do In Australia.

This sauce is particularly suitable for poached, sweet water fish. I have presented it with steamed or baked trout or Murray cod or as on this occasion with prawns. Pino Correnti’s version in Il Libro D’Oro Della Cucina E Dei Vini Di Sicilia is made with poppy seeds, but if you present this version to your guests tell your guests what is in the sauce – the black colour can be a little disturbing.

I use a food processor to almost pulverise the almonds (or walnuts). The poppy seeds I use whole, crushed lightly.

Use a mortar and pestle to make the sauce. The ingredients are added gradually to achieve a smooth purée like texture; as a variation I add some blanched ground almonds. Warm water is added to make the mixture smoother. I also know that in various parts of Greece, walnuts are used and that sometimes skordalia is made with bread instead of potatoes.

potato, 2 cooked, peeled and cubed
2-3 cloves of garlic,
½ cup extra virgin olive oil,
¼ cup blanched and ground almonds
salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon or 1 tbs white wine vinegar
hot water

Begin by pounding the with salt in the mortar and pestle.

Gradually add small amounts of almonds, potato and some of the oil, lemon (or vinegar) and continue to pound until all of the ingredients are finished and you have a smooth paste (add some hot water to thin as necessary).

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