In Cyprus we like our olives “tsakistes”. The direct translation of the word is “crushed”. That of course, doesn’t mean we crush them to bits. Actually, we crush them by hand with a stone, only until they split. Then we cure them and dress them with olive oil, lemon, garlic and crushed dried coriander. They are to die for. Especially if you have a crusty bread to dip in the juices.
We also like our fish roasted or grilled and then served with “ladolemono”. That is olive oil and lemon whisked together and sprinkled with parsley. The addition of olives and coriander in this recipe, makes the sauce more complex and absolutely delicious. I stuffed the cavity of the fish with whole olives, which became really soft in the oven and added saltiness. This out of the ordinary dish is incredibly tasty and wonderful, full of Mediterranean flavours. A good enough reason to escape from the ordinary, a great way to impress and an absolutely fantastic way to enjoy a good fish.
Ingredients for the sauce
- 2 tsp dried coriander seeds
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 10 green olives, pitted (I used Cyprus “tsakistes” olives, but any other green olives will do)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the fish
- 2 medium sized sea breams or any other white fish
- About 20 green olives to stuff the cavity of the fish
- 3-4 parsley sprigs
- 3-4 coriander sprigs
- Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 210 C. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds with the black peppercorns about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Keep stirring being careful not to burn the spices. Crush toasted spices in a mortar and pestle or spice mill.
Zest the lemon and extract the juice from half. Peel the other half (remove all the white pith) and roughly chop. In a bowl of a food processor add the chopped lemon, the toasted spices and all the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Blend until everything is nicely chopped and emulsified.
Put fish in a baking pan. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the sauce on both sides of each fish. Add some more sauce in the cavity of the fish. Stuff each cavity with green olives and a few parsley and coriander sprigs. Season fish generously with salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on how big your fish is. Tent with foil and let fish stand for 5 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce.