“My father would eat an appetizer which was raw fish with lemon squeezed onto it. I think it is called LAKADA, made from mackerel. He would eat it with greek olives and bread.
I am a Sephardic Jew who grew up in Brooklyn and now live in Kansas City and would like to know how my mother prepared this dish for my dad.” – Joseph
The recipe name you’re trying to remember is lâkerda, the Turkish name for an appetizer of marinated raw tuna or of bonito, which is indeed a kind of mackerel (When made with bonito, it is called palamida, which is the Greek name for that fish). Both are oily, blue fishes. I’m not partial to mackerel, but I love raw tuna marinated in lime juice and this is essentially the same thing.
The technique is very straightforward; probably the most difficult part of making lakerda is cleaning and boning the fish. How you approach that will depend upon the kind of fish you’ve got, and what’s available at the fish market depends upon where you live. If you don’t know your way around fish, ask your local fishmonger for guidance, or to clean the fish for you. And if you can’t get fresh mackerel (you probably can’t), ask for a good substitute. Or use a mild, white flesh fish, which will be a different experience altogether.
When you’ve settled on your choice of fish, place the cleaned, fresh fillets in a glass or ceramic dish, cover liberally with lemon juice and leave to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Bring the fish to room temperature, drain it and serve, with a splash of olive oil, if you like, to balance the acidity of the lemon juice. A spash of fresh-squeezed orange juice is also pretty sensational. Tradition calls for olives, too, just as you remember from your childhood (I’m guessing you mother served kalmatas). These will complement the snack with their saltiness (Is it mean of me to be posting this a few hours before Yom Kippur?).
Should you be wondering, the lemon cooks the fish, but if the prospect makes you squeamish, first freeze the raw fillets for a day or two, thaw them in the refrigerator and then marinate immediately while still cold. Any leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 2 days.
Thanks for your question, Joseph.