Tzatziki is one of the most classic Greek sauces, served with everything from pita (as a dip) to lamb to seafood. It’s a refreshing mix of cucumber, garlic and yogurt, and then the options broaden. You can add any number of fresh herbs, such as dill, oregano, mint, parsley, even the fronds of fennel bulbs. You can swap out the garlic for shallots, or another member of the onion family. Olive oil is often added for a bit of richness, and there is usually some sort of acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, to give it a little kick. I added some chopped fennel to this version because I love its anise-y flavor. The amount of garlic is fairly light; add more if you wish.
Different cultures have their own versions of cucumber yogurt sauce, and if you like tzatziki, it’s worth digging in deeper. And if you like tzatziki as much as I do, you may want to make extra to serve up with pita chips the next day, or perhaps dollop it on a piece of grilled chicken or a chop. Leftover roasted meat thinly sliced and piled into a pita with tzatziki makes a great makeshift gyro.
Tzatziki is best eaten within a day of making it, as the mixture can start to become watery from the cucumbers.
PANKO-CRUSTED FISH WITH TZATZIKI
Start to finish: 45 minutes
1 small cucumber
1/2 cup minced fennel
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 (6-ounce) fillets barramundi, tilapia, haddock, halibut or other mild, firm-fleshed white fish
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
Peel the cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber using the large holes on a box grater, or the grating blade in a food processor. Toss the cucumber with the fennel and salt, and place in a strainer over a bowl or in the sink.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place the egg and panko into two separate shallow bowls. Stir the parsley into the panko.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Dunk each fillet in the egg, so that is it well coated, then dredge each filet in the panko mixture. Place the coated fillets in the hot oil and saute the fish for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer the fish to a paper towel-lined plate.
Use your hands to squeeze the cucumber mixture to press out any extra liquid, then place in a medium bowl. Add the mint, oregano, lemon juice, garlic and yogurt. Stir well, and add pepper and any additional salt as needed (remember the cucumbers and fennel were salted at the beginning).
Serve the fish hot, with a spoonful of tzatziki on the side.
Nutrition information per serving: 427 calories; 117 calories from fat; 13 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 196 mg cholesterol; 473 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 45 g protein.