‘Black Carp’ was likely named after the deep, dark colour of the sauce. Its sweetness comes from a combination of plum preserves, cherry juice and honey; while balsamic vinegar balances the sweet flavour with a hint of acidity.
This recipe comes from “Sekrety kuchmistrzowskie Stanisława Czernieckiego” (“Chef’s Secrets of Stanisław Czerniecki”).
In this publication, the authors took recipes from the very first surviving Polish cookbook (Czernecki’s 17th century “Compendium Ferculorum”) and rewrote them for the modern audience to understand – and to cook from.
This recipe is the part of the “Old-Polish Fast” series, in which we time-travel back to an old-Polish kitchen.
For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.
The original recipes can be difficult to follow, but they’re wonderful to study. The old-Polish wording and phrasing read more like poems, and not cooking instructions.
What you’ll notice about these old cooking techniques is how differently fish is treated.
Today, we simply add a few herbs and then season it gently with salt and pepper. Surprisingly, our forefathers went for much bolder aromas. They made sweet and sour marinades and sauces, similar to those we would now use for beef, pork or poultry.
I thought that such strong, fruity flavours would overpower the carp completely. But that’s not the case, fruity notes complement these fish steaks beautifully.
Do you need any special ingredients to make these Carp Fillets?
All o the ingredients should be easy to find in any major supermarket, except one – the carp itself.
🇵🇱 In the weeks leading to Christmas, fresh carp is available in nearly every food store in Poland. But outside of the festive season, you’ll have to head out to specialty fishmongers. For best quality, it’s worth looking out for ‘Karp Zatorski’ and ‘Karp Milicki’.
🌍 Internationally, common carp is plentiful, but rarely eaten. That’s because this fish is a bottom-feeding species, and unless it’s farmed in clear waters – it tastes like mud.
Enquire about Common Carp in a specialty seafood store; or substitute it it’s close cousin – Asian Carp (also called Silver Carp, in Polish: tołpyga)
How to make these Carp Fillets?
Portion carp fillets, move them into a cooking pot and cover with salted water.
Bring to a near-boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Carefully move the fillets over into an oven-friendly dish. Set aside.
Pass two spoonfuls of plum preserve through a sieve. Add in cherry juice, honey, balsamic vinegar and all the seasonings.
Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C). Cover fish pieces with sauce and cover with foil. Bake for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with some sauce poured on top.
What could you serve with this ‘Black Carp’?
The flavour of Black Carp is quite bold, therefore it’s best to pair it with a mild side dish. Potatoes (puréed or roasted), roasted root vegetables, rice or buckwheat – all of these would pair nicely. This time, I went for steamed and lightly salted cauliflower florets.
Can you cook these Carp Fillets another way?
No, not really. If you prefer a thicker sauce, it’s worth reducing it for 15-30 minutes on a low heat.
What diets are these Carp Fillets suitable for?
This recipe does not contain meat, nor dairy. It’s also gluten-free.
How long can you keep this ‘Black Carp’ in the fridge?
Once you’ve served this dish, don’t leave it at room temperature for than 2-3 hours.
To store any leftovers, refrigerate them in a fridge-friendly container (with a lid) and aim to consume within 2 days.
Can I freeze these Carp Fillets?
I wouldn’t recommend freezing this recipe.
How do I reheat this ‘Black Carp’?
From chilled: To reheat this dish, preheat the oven to 360°F (180°C). Move the carp pieces into an oven-friendly dish, cover with the fruity sauce and cover with foil. Bake for 7-10 minutes until heated throughout.
- 2 carps, gutted (roughly 2 lb/1 kg each) and cut into 4 fillets or steaks
- solid pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp plum preserves
- 0.5 cup (100-110 ml) cherry juice
- 1 tsp honey, ideally honeydew honey
- 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 5 g ginger (2.5 grated/ground ginger)
- 4 gloves
- ground black pepper
- Salt, to season
- [if dealing with whole gutted carp] Scale the fish, cut off the head, tail and fins. Cut into steaks or portion into fillet pieces.
- Move carp fillets into the cooking pot and cover with salted water - just enough water to cover the fish.
- Bring to a near-boil and reduce the heat to “low”. Cook for 8-10 minutes, ideally gently simmering at roughly 175-195°F (80-90°C)
- Gently move all carp fillet pieces into an oven-proof dish. Set aside.
- Pass two spoonfuls of plum preserve through a sieve and into a bowl. Add in cherry juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, ginger and cloves. Combine together with a fork or a whisk.
- Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C). Cover carp fillet pieces with the fruity sauce and cover with foil or a lid. Bake together for 5 minutes.
- Serve hot, pouring some sauce on top. Pair with potato purée, roasted root vegetables or, like me, steamed cauliflower.
- This recipe comes from “Sekrety kuchmistrzowskie Stanisława Czernieckiego” (“Chef’s Secrets of Stanisław Czerniecki”), by prof. Jarosław Dumanowski, Andrzej Pawlas and Jerzy Poznański. Published by Muzeum Pałacu Króla Jana III w Wilanowie (Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów), ISBN 978-83-60959-93-0
- A fish steamer pot works best for cooking the fish (or just a regular pot with a steamer insert). But I just used a regular pot, and it worked okay.
- If the honey crystallizes, it’s worth heating it up gently to turn it liquid again.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 431Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 200mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 35g
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