Fish fried in the pan
This is the most common way of serving fish in Greece. Small fish, especially red mullet, bogue, sardines etc. are fried whole. All whole fish are gutted before frying, except the tiny smelts or marides. The scales of red mullet and larger fish would be removed.
The rules for frying are simple. Whole fish should be dried carefully after cleaning and scaling, and then rolled lightly in plain flour. They should then be fried as quickly as possible in hot oil in a heavy pan, with enough oil to almost cover them.
They should only be turned once. The hot oil solidifies the flour coating and cooks the flesh without actually coming into contact with it. The advantage of using olive oil for frying is that it can be heated to quite a high temperature without burning.
Fried red mullet
Follow the general rules as above, but after you have cleaned and scaled the fish put them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt and lemon juice. Allow to drain for about 15 minutes, then proceed to flour them in the usual way
Fried smelts or whitebait
(Atherína tiyanití, marídes tiyanités)
These little fish are left whole and not gutted. They should be put into a bag of seasoned plain flour and the bag shaken until they are well coated.
The excess flour is then shaken off and they are deep fried in very hot oil. It is quite usual for the very tiny delicious atherinia to stick together during frying, and be served in the form of a kind of “mat”. On Santorini, one or two tavernas down in the harbour of the northern village of Oia add a handful of chopped onions to the fish as they are frying, producing a fish and onion “mat”.