• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


  • 2012

  • 19 December 2012

    Poles still follow the tradition of buying live carps before Christmas, keeping them in bathtubs and then killing fish on their own.

    © teressa -

         This freshwater fish can be cooked in many different ways: carp in jelly, carp pâté or carp stewed in beer or cream. In the past, Polish cooks would stew carp in “a black sauce” made of dark beer and fish blood. Carp in gingerbread is another traditional dish – which is still served in some houses on Christmas Eve.


         Today, common carp is usually served sliced and fried, roasted in butter with raisins and gingerbread or cooked in the Jewish style, that is in its own gravy. It can also be rolled in gingerbread crumbs, almonds and poppy seeds. It can be accompanied by dried prune sauce or prune jam.


         Poles still follow the tradition of buying live carps before Christmas, keeping them in bathtubs and then killing fish on their own. The custom dates back to the period of the People’s Republic of Poland when everything had to be bought in advance. Today, many environmental organizations speak out against this tradition.


         Poland is the home for the Zator carp which was labelled by the European Union with the PDO logo (Protected Designation of Origin). This species of carp comes from the so-called Dolina Karpia [Carp Valley] in the Małopolskie Voivodeship encompassing Zator and Przeciszów communes in Oświęcim district and Spytkowice commune in Wadowice district. The Zator carp descends from the Polish carp breed (Galician). It has a delicate flavour and is becoming more and more popular in Poland.


         The following recipe is an extract from the book entitled “Najlepsze przepisy kuchni polskiej” [“The Best Recipes of the Polish Cuisine”] by Marek Łebkowski.


    Jewish carp

    1 carp (1.5 kg)

    800 g of onions

    1 carrot

    1 parsley

    ½ of celery

    1 spoonful of butter

    1 bay leaf

    4 seeds of pepper

    4 seeds of allspice


    Dress the fish, remove scales, cut it open and remove inner organs. Rinse thoroughly, cut into slices, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Peel vegetables, rinse with water and dice onions. Cover vegetables and onion with 1 litre of water, add fish head and tail, bay leaf, allspice and pepper seeds. Cook for 30 minutes. Add slices of fish and cook for another 30 minutes. Put slices of cooked fish on a platter. Pressing hard, strain broth and pour it over slices of carp. Serve hot with boiled potatoes or chill and serve cold with challah. 


    Monika Kucia


    Monika Kucia – culinary journalist and author of Cuisine PL, a brochure published during the Polish Presidency of the EU Council to promote Poland’s gastronomy. Co-author with Kurt Scheller of Polish Cuisine Rediscovered. Regular contributor to a number of magazines, including Traveler, Weranda Country, Food Service, Ona & Styl and Kaleidoscope.



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