Ouzo, Oompah and Other Greek Delights
Marty Martindale

Our family has a favorite thing we do when we have time. We run up to Hellas’ Restaurant greekin Tarpon Springs, FL, and always order the same meal.

It goes like this. First, they bring us a shot of ouzo, which we dump on the accompanying rocks. Next comes the generous wedge of flaming Saganaki cheese (OOMPAH!), so yummy along-side the ouzo. We like to receive the next two items together, and they are a so-fresh Horiatiki Salad, a lettuceless combination of tomato wedges, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, Greek olives and feta cheese appropriately drenched with house olive oil dressing.  And, what brings everything together is an order of  crispy Lamb Riblets, which rounds out the meal perfectly.  

This got me to thinking if and how the Greeks use ouzo in their cooking. It is most frequently served as an accompaniment to little appetizers they call mezes, frequently seafood, fish, sausage, meatballs, fava beans, pastes, olives or cheeses. Ouzo’s licorice taste, tasting a bit like absinthe, accentuates the unique meze flavors. It packs a powerful punch with its licorice taste and has high alcohol content. Ouzo is most often drank mixed with ice as it melts. It will take on a milky hue once water is added. When cooking with ouzo, use it sparingly, not by the cupful.

Fourteenth-century monks first distilled ouzo on Mount Athos. Ouzo’s popularity became more widespread early in the 20th century when absinthe withdrew from the drinking scene. It was distilled in copper stills which became the standard for making ouzo today.

(Anywhere you can use a light hit of licorice.)

  • Add to caramelized onions
  • Cookies
  • Cream sauces
  • Fennel, fennel seed recipes
  • Flambé for seafood, cheeses or kebabs
  • Frostings
  • In crust recipes
  • Marinades for seafood or meats
  • Meatballs
  • Meze/tapas accompaniment
  • Seafood sauces for pasta
  • Soups
  • Vinaigrette dressing


Below are foodsites with recipes using ouzo.






Marty Martindale

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

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