Kakavia is a delicious fish soup that is perfect for the summertime. The most ancient of Greek fish soups, kakavia is also known as “Greek fisherman’s soup” because it was usually something that Greek fishermen would quickly throw together right on their boats.
Similar to the French bouillabaisse, kakavia is prepared with a flexible variety of fish. It is a very liberal recipe, with no set rules or ingredients. A fisherman would typically use the smallest fish from his catch of the day — or whatever was left over after he sold the bulk of his catch — to prepare kakavia for himself at the end of a long and tiring day.
As a result, different recipes for kakavia will vary wildly. You can add whatever you want to the soup — small fish like rainbow wrasse and saddled sea-bream, fillets of larger white fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, and so on. People will often visit local fish markets in Greece and buy any of the small fish that were caught by accident in the fisherman’s net at extraordinarily low prices. While the fish are too small to properly eat, they would be able to lend rich flavors to the kakavia broth.
Kakavia is a simple and tasty soup that only consists of three basic components. The base consists of a variety of vegetables, potatoes, and herbs thrown together in a soup. The second component is a whole fish that is poached in the broth, lending its seafood flavors to the stock. And the third component is the medley of assorted small fish and seafood that is added at the end of the cooking process — the actual “meat” of the soup. After all of these different kinds of fish and vegetables are added, all you need is a little seasoning and the kakavia is ready to eat.
Despite its simplicity, kakavia is a hearty fish soup that will give you a real taste of the sea. It also pairs exceptionally well with wines — according to the New York Times, kakavia goes very well with clean-cut and acidic wines that have hints of melon and tropical fruit, such as rieslings.
At Nerai, our kakavia is made with Mediterranean stone bass poached in fish stock and carrot, potato, pearl onion, and potato puree. The dish is flavored with fennel confit in grapeseed oil, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, garlic, and thyme. And the fish broth itself is made with corvina bones, mirepoix, saffron, and black pepper.
Make a reservation at Nerai today to try our delicious kakavia.