Carp for Christmas


Karp w Szarym Sosie. Photo Otwarta Kuchnia.

(Click on image to see the original on the Polish website, Otwarta Kuchnia.)

With the traditional festivities rapidly approaching the BTWT team would like to wish all our readers a very ‘Happy Christmas’ and/or a ‘Prosperous New Year’ (strike out as appropriate). Robert Hall, our guest author-in-chief has decided to cook Polish this Christmas and is attempting a very ambitious dish, Karp w Szarym Sosie (Carp in Grey Sauce) – the centrepiece of the 12 traditional meat-less dishes that are served during the Polish Vigilia evening meal on ChristmasEve. After the meal, Christmas presents are opened, carols are sung, and then the family and guests attend pasterka – midnight mass. Veteran BTWT readers will know that Dyspozytor is  something of a food fad and has been known to publish the odd Polish recipe, or two; so here for Robert, and anyone else brave enough to try, is how we go about cooking…

Carp in Grey Sauce

Carp – 1.5 lb (0.75 kg) serves 4

Vegetables for stock:

large onion
small leek

Seasoning for stock:

pinch of ginger
½ teaspoon of salt
½ lemon rind
bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
150 ml beer

Grey sauce:

tablespoon butter
tablespoon flour
12 raisins
12 almonds
tablespoon sugar

Cut off and discard the head, scrape off the scales with a very sharp kitchen knife, and wash thoroughly. Cut into 2 inch (5 cm) wide steaks, salt and put into the fridge.

Choose a suitable saucepan add 1½ pints water (850 ml) water and bring to the boil. Wash, peel and chop vegetables and add to the boiling water. Season the stock with a pinch of ginger (see below if you have no ginger), ½ teaspoon of salt, half a lemon rind, a bay leaf and 6 black peppercorns. Boil for 15 minutes, add ¼ pint beer (150 ml). (Paul Theakston’s, ‘Black Sheep’, Golden Sheep brew works well.)

Place carp steaks into boiling stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Drink ½ of the remaining beer. Remove the carp very carefully from the stock and arrange on a fireproof dish with raised sides. Discard some of the stock, retaining a quarter (250 ml).

Wash the raisins, put them in a glass, add boiling water, leave for ten minutes, then drain. Chop the almonds.

Caramelise tablespoon of sugar. Brown some flour by heating gently over a saucepan then add butter and mix to form a roux. Dilute with hot stock. Add (if you had no ginger add ½ a crushed ginger biscuit now) raisins, almonds and caramelised sugar to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, mixing thoroughly. Add lemon juice to sauce and pour over carp.

Pre heat oven to 150°C for 10 minutes. Bake carp for 20 – 30 minutes and serve. (Taste one of the steaks after 20 minutes to check progress and drink the rest of the beer.)

4 Responses to “Carp for Christmas”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Recipe greatly appreciated: clearer than the original one (in Polish to boot — trying to tackle with dictionary) which I had. Brother and self (celebrants of this Christmas carp-fest) have done carp Polish-style on past occasions; but always hitherto, has been the “in horseradish sauce” recipe; a good deal simpler than the grey-sauce job — and doesn’t involve Theakstons Black Sheep !

  2. Robert Hall Says:

    Our carp in grey sauce marathon was highly successful. (Thinks) “Thanks to the Dec. 22nd’s post. I reckon we’d have been lost, with the inadequate gen that we had previously.”

    One thing – why does it have the rather unattractive-sounding name of “grey” sauce? The sauce that we got (Were we following instructions rightly?) was sort of butterscotch-brown in colour.

    • Dyspozytor Says:

      In the full blooded version of the recipe: you buy live carp., keep them swimming about in the bath till Christmas Eve, fish them out, kill them, catch their blood and add it to the sauce at the appropriate stage.

      Knowing how English people love their animals, I left this bit out fearing that BTWT would have been shut down by a cyber-attack by the CPS. (Carp Protection Society.)

      Had you followed the original version of the recipe the sauce would have turned out more of a grey colour.

  3. Robert Hall Says:

    Thanks — that explains it. Thoughts come to mind concerning this time next year; supposedly there’s a society called “Cruel Food”, founded in defence of — exactly that… no, best not go there !

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