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What is Skordalia?

Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Updated May 17, 2024
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Skordalia is a dish made primarily of softened garlic cloves. The garlic is generally combined with a starchy ingredient, which acts as a binder to give it a thick texture. Skordalia is a traditional food in Greek cuisine and is often served as a side dish or condiment. The dish has a strong, pungent taste that is often paired with more mild-flavored foods.

The process of making skordalia usually begins with breaking down the garlic cloves. In order for the garlic to be evenly distributed throughout the dish, it is generally worked into a paste rather than chopping the cloves into fine pieces. The garlic is typically sprinkled with salt, which helps soften it and make it more pliable. It can then be smashed with the flat blade of a knife or a mortar and pestle.

Once the garlic is prepared into a soft paste, most recipes generally call for a starchy thickening agent. One of the most common foods used for the dish are potatoes. The potatoes are boiled to make them soft enough to stir with the garlic. A common alternative to using potatoes to bind the mixture is crusty or stale bread. To make the bread pliable enough to form a soft mixture with the garlic paste, bread cubes are moistened with liquid, such as water, milk, or broth. Some recipes may also call for ground nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts, but it tends to not be as common as potatoes or bread.

After the garlic and thickening agent are combined, the mixture is usually extremely thick and may not be pliable enough to consume as a condiment. To make the dish easier to handle and eat, it is usually combined with olive oil to make it smoother. The exact amount of olive oil required may depend on the specific recipe or the cook’s personal preference for the texture of the dish.

One of the most common uses for the dish is as a condiment for Greek foods. It is traditionally served alongside seafood, particularly fried or poached fish, and used as a dip. The dip may also be eaten with fried or boiled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, or beets. Skordalia can be served as a side dish with meat entrees like grilled or roasted lamb, chicken, pork, or beef. Although less common, the garlic mixture may also be served as a main dish, rather than a condiment or accompaniment.

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Discussion Comments

By calabama71 — On Sep 01, 2010

@snowywinter: The first time my mom cooked it, she served it with what is called crostini. Crostini is an Italian word that means “little toasts”. It is basically thin slices of bread that are first toasted and then drizzled with olive oil.

You can also serve it with bruschetta. That comes from the Italian word “bruscare” which means “to roast over coal”. They are also thin slices of bread. They are made by rubbing garlic cloves against slices of toasted bread and drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil. It is then salted and peppered and heated. It is served warm.

By SnowyWinter — On Sep 01, 2010

@calabama71: What would you serve the Skordalia Sauce with? Do you serve it plain or with bread?

By calabama71 — On Sep 01, 2010

My mother was always very thrifty, especially in the kitchen. She could create a meal out of leftovers that you would think she ordered at the finest restaurants. This is a recipe that she gave me for Skordalia Sauce, of course using old bread that would probably just be thrown out!

You need 1 potato, 5 pieces of stale white bread without the crust, 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. sugar, ½ cup chopped almonds, 2 cloves chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the potato until it is soft and then peel it. Soak the bread in water for about ten minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and place the bread in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. In a food processor, mix the almonds, garlic, and potato until smooth. Add the soaked bread and lemon juice mixture. Mix until well combined.

It is great served as an appetizer.

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