Also known as kritharokouloro, Cretan dakos can usually be prepared in two different ways. One is a bruschetta style dish, with fresh tomato and plenty of extra virgin olive oil, known in Crete as koukouvayia and as kouloukopsomo in eastern Crete.
The other way you can be served a dako is inside a Cretan salad, That is the main ingredient of the dish, the barley rusks, is cut into small irregular pieces and uses it inside a Cretan salad, as if they were croutons.
Today, I will show you the classic Dako dish you’re used to have in Crete, but you can discover how to use it in a Cretan salad here.
Ingredients for the Cretan Dako (and how to replace them!)
A dako dish is often made with fresh myzithra cheese, which you can replace with very Greek feta cheese. And yes, we know, you won’t find myzithra around the corner if you’re not on Crete. However, you can always find alternatives or use your imagination to obtain a very similar dish!
>>> QUiCK SOLUTION: If there’s no way for you to find feta Cheese (let alone myzithra), you can easily replace it with salted ricotta, or even use some spread cream cheese, Philadelphia style. Of course, it won’t be the same as the Cretan myzithra flavor you’re used to, but it will save the day!
Dakos is a super easy dish as it has very simple and seasonal ingredients. It is made with half a dako rusk and Greek summery toppings: tomato, oregano, cheese, olive oil, and sometimes cappers.
Locally known as paximadia, the rusks most commonly used to prepare dakos are often barley rusks. And if you love this dish as much as I do, it can be an easy solution to bring home a pack or rusks with you. They often have a very long shelf life.
Another option is to replace the rusk with any kind of rustic bread that has been cut in fairly thick slices and dried for long in the oven at a very low temperature, allowing for most of the moisture to evaporate.
When buying Cretan barley rusk or dakos, make sure to get the softest variety available. If it is hard to break or to bite into, you will need to sprinkle it with water or soak it slightly… When doing this, please be extremely careful not to turn it into mush, so add just a few drops at a time and check how the rusk is soaking!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Yes, another key ingredient. Although not always easy to find abroad, a good quality olive oil, if possible Cretan, can make all the difference when it comes to taste.
Make sure you use a thick dense kind of oil for better results. If on Crete, then get yourself a can of the tsounati variety olive oil, it’s a bit spicy and ideal for salads, uncooked vegetables, and dakos, of course!
A Secret Dressing for Dakos?
In order to get the best possible Dakos, one that tastes like the one you might enjoy on Crete, you will first need to get a good Greek Salad Dressing ready.
CHECK HOW TO MAKE A GREEK SALAD DRESSING HERE
When to Have a Dakos
Dakos is an amazing summer dish, for those days when it’s too hot to even move from the tavern at the beach. It is light and delicious, and can be easily made anywhere in the world if you manage to live without myzithra.
Best Cretan Wines to Pair with Dakos
- Red Cretan Kotsifali
- White Cretan Vilana
- In the mood for a rosé? Try dakos with Manousakis Pink or Dourakis Grenache Rosé.
Cretan wine pairing by talented local sommelier, Anna Maria Kambouraki.