Dakos, the Cretan Magic
tl;dr recipe at the bottom
Today is a special day! I usually write about food and food related stuff but not today! In this post I am going to talk about magic! Well, now that I am thinking it all over, it is food related magic, but hey! That's what you are getting, ok?
To talk about this particular matter, I prepared myself properly. I've already drunk a couple of #Raki shots to come up in mood, took some totally shaken photos (you'll see) and hopped right on to present to you my marvelous work. But what is the magical subject?
Are we talking about the Snake Goddess? No. Are talking about King Minos that is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey? No.
Are we talking about Talos the actual "Ironman" of Crete? A huge robot that could traverse by running the whole island 3 times a day? No!!!
Dakos. We are talking about a salad that defies the rules of salads. If there was a salad police, this one would be in jail. Crete always showed strong signs of free will and liberty that surges from each individual person who lives there (mostly accompanied by their hand-held gun). They somehow managed to show that within a dish which isn't even getting served in a plate. Well, if you go to a tavern you'll get it in a plate for sanitary reasons BUT, this one is normally served just on big #barley #rusks. It's like Italian bruschetta but brought to Greek standards and bruschetta is more like an opener.
This meze/salad was invented (more likely converted but who am I to judge) somewhere around 1950 where Crete got rid of the Germans that had occupied the land. The old name of this dish was "Kukuvaya", where rumors claim that was the surname of the owner of the tavern that made it. Kukuvaya by the way is the Greek word for Owl and I say that because it has something to do with the shape of Dakos. It's circular, dark brown/red on the outside (by the tomato and oil) and black in the center (from the olives), so it vaguely gives out the shape of an owl's eye. Does this make sense? Dunno, those guys drink a lot.
Another rumor has it that it got the name of kukuvaya because the people went to taste it very late in the night so they wouldn't be seen, like owls. Later they stopped calling it that and they changed it to kulukopsomo (bread that we give to the dogs) and when the culinary arts went up, the finalized name got fixed on Dakos which is the type of the rusk they use.
Ok, maybe there isn't an easier salad to do than a Dakos. It has a small preparation time but this is more for the looks than it is actually needed. Find yourself some big barley rusks, put them aside. Take the tomatoes and cut them in half. Keep the half to create cubes later and grate the other half. When finished add to the juice a tablespoon of apple vinegar and a bit of salt to raise its taste up. It's not unheard to add some sugar as well if the tomatoes are not that sweet but I didn't do it so I won't recommend it. If you are an onion fan, this is the right time to cube-cut half an onion as well but know that the original recipe does not have any onions in it. It doesn't mean that they don't match (it's a Greek salad deep down after all), just that they are not included in actual Dakos. The cheese you'll use is tricky here. Dakos can be made with Feta cheese or Mizithra cheese as well but whatever your pick is, it will change the resulting taste dramatically. In this particular recipe I used Feta cheese and I did some tricks of my own as well. Normally you break Feta with your hands (or a fork if you live in a palace) and keep it aside so later you can build your Dakos tower. What I did here is to turn Feta cheese into Feta cream. Take your multi mixer and add 200 gr in pieces of cheese, 3 tablespoons of yogurt and 4 tablespoons of ful fat milk and mix it. For added quality to eye-candy lovers, you can add dried oregano as well before mixing in order to create a uniform eye-pleasing cream.
Slice the olives or keep it whole (whole is cool, yes!!!), have in your disposal some capers and capers' leaves and you are done.
Building time! Take a Dakos (it's the rusk, come on), drizzle some olive oil on its surface. IF it is too hard to bite and you want to soften it a bit more you can water it for a very brief amount of time so some moisture comes into the rusk and do its magic. With a spoon add some of the tomato juice mix as the first layer. With another spoon add a layer of Feta cream. Hand pick tomato cubes and build it on top of the cream. Time for olives, capers and leaves on top. End your tower with some more dried oregano and drops of olive oil. You are all set!
Prep time:10 minutes | Building time: some seconds (a minute maybe?) | Serves:4
4 big barley rusks
2 big tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
1 tsp capers leaves
8 whole olives (or the same amount, sliced)
1 tbsp apple vinegar
Half a tsp of salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
(optional) Half an onion
For Feta Cream
200 gr Feta cheese
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
4 tbsp full fat milk
(optional) 1 tsp dried oregano
Cut one tomato in cubes, grate the other one.
Add vinegar and salt in tomato juice and mix.
Feta cream: Mix the ingredients in a multi mixer until you have a smooth cream.
Place rusk, drizzle some olive oil. Add tomato juice, feta cream over it, tomato pieces on top and decorate with olives, capers, capers leaves and dried oregano.