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The cucumber-yogurt dip known as tzatziki is often seasoned with lemon juice in the U.S., but in Greece cooks prefer red wine vinegar because it adds sharp acidity without the citrus notes to compete with the other ingredients. Thick and cooling, tzatziki can be served as a dip, but it's also an ideal condiment or accompaniment for grilled meats and seafood and fried foods.
Don't use nonfat Greek yogurt. Without any fat, the flavor of the tzatziki is weak and thin. Also, when shredding the cucumbers, don't shred the cores, as the seeds are watery and have a slight bitterness and unappealing texture.
English cucumbers, halved crosswise
cups plain whole-milk or low-fat Greek yogurt
medium garlic cloves, finely grated
tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more to serve
tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more to serve
teaspoons red wine vinegar
Spicy Feta Dip (Tirokafteri)
01Set a colander in a medium bowl, then set a box grater in the colander. Grate the cucumber halves on the grater's large holes, rotating and grating only down to the seedy core. Discard the cores. Sprinkle the shredded cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt and toss. Set aside to drain for 10 minutes.
02Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic, mint, dill and vinegar.
03A handful at a time, squeeze the shredded cucumber to remove as much liquid as possible, then set on a cutting board; reserve 2 teaspoons of the cucumber liquid. Finely chop the squeezed cucumber, then stir into the yogurt mixture. Stir in the reserved cucumber liquid and ½ teaspoon salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with additional mint and dill.
re: cucumber: Please state the amount in weight or size, or quantity you want to end up with - this would be useful, as I would like to make this with homegrown cukes that aren't English. I understand you specified English cukes for a reason (less bitter?), but folks, such as me, will experiment with other kinds. Thank you!
Hi Dorothy -
We actually specify English cucumbers because their skin is thinner and, therefore, doesn't require peeling. Thicker-skinned cucumbers may have to be peeled in order to use them in the recipe. A medium English cucumber, on average, weighs between 10 and 14 ounces.
The Milk Street Team
I have been making this recipe for years and it's always a hit. I peel and seed the cucumbers out of habit. I also smash the garlic with the salt in the mortar and pestle rather than grating it, and then I add the acid (sometime I switch the red wine for lemon) and let it sit for a few minutes before adding the mixture to the rest of the ingredients.
1/2 cup of olive oil seems excessive, especially since the tzatziki recipe included with your chicken and pork souvlaki recipes calls for much less oil. That said, I made it as written and it was amazing! As the chilled dip sat on the plate the olive oil pooled on the top making the tzatziki decadent and rich. Still, I think I will reduce the amount of oil next time.
I tried this recipe omitting the olive oil and it was fantastic!