Tigania (n): 1. a greek meze of morsels of fried pork with green peppers 2. frying pans
The first time I remember ordering tigania was at a beachside taverna on the island of Serifos. Wild crocuses grew on the sandy shore and the ramshackle kitchen had a pleasingly low-fi menu with great Grenglish translations. Much to our amusement they had translated this into the kitchen implement, not the porky meze.
On that occasion the name was more memorable than the dish if truth be told, but last summer in Athens tigania made its mark on my palate’s memory. We were at Oinopoleon, a bit of a hidden treasure of an institution in central Athens. They make their own rather potent and totally drinkable wine (this is really much more of a rarity than you would think in a wine producing country) and we had heard the food was decent too. The tigania were crispy, almost crunchy on the outside, but meltingly tender and came with the most savoury meat juices.
This is a great meze that is quick to prepare and easy to source. Good oregano will make a real difference here–– if you can’t get the good stuff, you could just avoid it or use fresh thyme.
We picked up an excellent chilled Gamay from Le Grappin at Brockley Market which was not dissimilar from Oinopoleon’s house red. On a sunny afternoon in Peckham, if you closed your eyes you could almost pretend you’re on a seaside terrace on a Greek island. Almost. Or maybe that was the 1.5L pouch of wine we had consumed…
Tigania of pork and green peppers
- dice the pork into bite-sized pieces that are more oblong than cubic. Put in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and juice of half a lemon.
- heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high (preferrable cast iron) and when it’s hot, saute the pepper until they are soft but not coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on some kitchen paper.
- make sure there is still some oil then add the pork to the pan. Leave to brown well before stirring so that all sides are well browned.
- deglaze with the vermouth or wine, then stir through the peppers and sprinkle over the oregano. Add the hot sauce or chilli flakes and transfer to your serving dish.