Carp Fish Cakes in Sweet Onion Jam

Kotlety z Karpia z Konfiturą z Cebuli

In this Carp Fish Cakes recipe, we’ve put carp at the center of the equation, and thrown in just enough cooked millet to hold the patties together.

When served with fragrant sweet onion jam, these Fish Cakes turn into a surprisingly elegant weeknight meal.

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.

Carp was a hit on the old-Polish tables of kings and noblemen, especially on the fasting days. It was either cooked whole and served in various sauces; or turned into pâtés, stews and soups (source).

Carp’s popularity increased yet again under the Communist regime. That’s when mass-farming of carp began, in order to remedy the fish shortage after the war.

Today, carp is served on Christmas Eve, but it’s often disliked for all those little bones that are hard to get rid of. Fortunately in this recipe, this problem is solved – once the fillets are baked, it’s easy to remove the bones by hand.

I stumbled upon this recipe when watching reruns of a popular culinary programme called “Okrasa łamie przepisy”. In this show, chef Karol Okrasa presents amazing recipes, often inspired by the old-Polish cuisine.

If you have access to TVP Polonia tv-channel, look out for the episode no. 233.

Do you need any special ingredients to make these Carp Fish Cakes in Sweet Onion Jam?

Yes. For this recipe you’ll need two carp fillets. 

Carp fillets

🇵🇱 When in Poland, try to get ‘Karp Zatorski’ (Zator Carp; also known as Royal Carp). It’s listed on the traditional product list of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Zator Carp is delicate, firm and creamy. It has a strong (but very pleasant) fishy smell.

🌍 Internationally, common carp is often considered a “trash fish”. And no wonder – it’s a bottom-feeding species. When it lives in murky waters, it tastes, well… muddy. That’s why carp should be farmed in crystal clear waters. 

It’s worth enquiring about common carp in specialty seafood stores. They often accommodate special orders. If you know where to purchase a decent carp, do let me know. When looking for an alternative, go for Asian carp (also known as Silver carp or ‘tołpyga’ in Polish). 

Another ingredient that’s trickier to source is bird cherry preserve (bird cherry is ‘czeremcha’ in Polish). Flavour-wise, sour cherry is close enough as a substitute – and that’s what I used.

How to cook these Carp Fish Cakes?

Step 1

Bake the fillets in 360°F (180°C) for around 35-45 minutes. Leave to cool and grind in a meat grinder, twice. Set aside. (I’ve got three fillets here, but two are enough).

Raw carp fillets on a baking tray

Step 2

Chop the onions into half-moons. Fry them on canola oil until lightly golden.

Frying onions

Step 3

Add in bird cherry (or sour cherry) preserve, apple vinegar, honey, lemon peel and lemon juice. Season with salt and chopped fresh thyme. Set aside.

Frying sweet onion jam

Step 4

Return to minced carp. Add an egg (or ground flaxseed mixed with water). Add cooked millet, breadcrumbs, chopped herbs and seasonings. Combine together. Form flat patties and coat with breadcrumbs. Fry from each side until golden.

Frying carp fish cakes on a frying pan

Step 5

Form a nest out of the sweet onion jam. Serve carp fish cakes on top, alongside a side dish of your choice.

Carp fish cake served with Sweet onion jam

What could you serve with these Carp Cakes?

These fish cakes are full of flavour, therefore I would suggest a milder side dish. Mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables are perfect for this.

Another idea would be to assemble a burger. Just pack the fish cake (together with some onion jam) into a burger bun, and voilà!

Can you cook these Carp Fish Cakes another way?

Fresh thyme can be swapped for another herb, such as dill or parsley leaves.

Also, I’ve used cooked millet here, but the original recipe calls for pearl barley – so both work well.

What diets are these Carp Fish Cakes suitable for?

These Carp Cakes are dairy-free if you swap an egg for one tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water.

How long can you keep these Carp Fish Cakes in the fridge?

Once you’ve served these Carp Cakes, don’t keep them out at room temperature for longer than 2-3 hours.

If you allow any leftovers to cool, refrigerate them in a container (with a lid or covered with cling film) for up to 2 days.

Can I freeze these Carp Fish Cakes?

Yes. This recipe can be frozen, but it’s worth freezing the cakes and onion jam separately. 

Freeze the cakes as soon as they’re cold enough to do so. Use a freezer-friendly container with a lid, or alternatively – wrap each fish cake individually, so you can defrost as many as you need.

Label with a description and the date, and aim to consume within 2-3 months.

How do I reheat these Carp Fish Cakes?

From chilled: Transfer the Carp Cakes onto a baking tray and reheat in the oven (at 390°F/200°C) for 10-15 minutes. Reheat the onion jam in a saucepan on a low heat.

From frozen: Thaw overnight, and then follow the instructions as above. 

Smacznego!

carp fish cakes
carp fish cake

Carp Fish Cakes in Sweet Onion Jam

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

These Polish-style Carp Fish Cakes in Sweet Onion Jam will turn any carp-skeptic into a carp-enthusiast. This recipe makes around 10 cakes, that's enough for five portions.

Ingredients

  • 1 carp (1.5 kg) gutted, head-off, without fins; or 2 fillets
  • Frying oil, e.g. canola
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tbsp bird cherry preserve (sub for: sour cherry preserve)
  • 3 tbsp (50 ml) apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ bunch (0.7 oz, 20 g) of fresh thyme, dill or parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 egg (dairy-free substitute: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water)
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • ½ nutmeg seed (1 tsp ground nutmeg)
  • 2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup millet, cooked (that’s roughly ⅓ cup dry, raw millet)
  • Salt, black pepper, canola oil

Instructions

  1. [if dealing with whole gutted carp] Scale the fish, cut off the head, tail and fins. Divide into fillets. If you can feel any bones - remove them.
  2. Bake the fillets in a preheated oven, in 360°F (180°C) for around 35-45 minutes. The exact time will depend on the fillet’s thickness, so it’s worth testing the fish empirically - by poking it with a fork. Carp is baked when its meat is opaque and non-translucent. 
  3. Leave to cool and grind in a meat grinder, twice. Alternatively, chop the fillets finely with a knife or use a food processor.
  4. Julienne the onions (half-moons work too). 
  5. Grab a frying pan, grease it with a spoonful or two of canola oil. Add the onions in, and fry until lightly golden. 
  6. Add in two tablespoons of bird cherry preserve, three tablespoons of apple vinegar and one tablespoon of honey. Season with a generous pinch of salt and chopped fresh thyme. Grate lemon peel and juice it as well, add those to the frying pan. Set aside or keep on a super-low heat.
  7. Let’s return to minced carp. Crack one egg in - or, for a dairy-free version, combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water) and add it into the carp mass.
  8. Add in 2-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs and cooked millet into the mass. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper, grated nutmeg and chopped fresh thyme. Combine everything well with a spatula or a spoon.
  9. Form flat fish balls with your hands, sized roughly as a tennis ball. Coat them with breadcrumbs. 
  10. Fry in a generous amount of oil from both sides, until golden (roughly 5 minutes from each side). Serve with the onion sauce and garnish with springs of fresh thyme.

Notes

  • This recipe was created by Polish chef Karol Okrasa and was presented in his TV show “Okrasa łamie przepisy" (episode 233, in Polish, available as VOD over here - possibly locked by region)
  • To replace the egg, use the following ratio:
    1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp of water = 1 egg.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 193mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 5g

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Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia Kronenberger changes the (often unfavourable) perceptions of Polish food through digital storytelling. She creates purpose-led, bite-sized videos, exploring her cultural identity through food. As a self-taught home cook, Kasia enjoys trying out recipes from old Polish cookbooks. She’s keen of all things smoked or fermented.


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