Czech Christmas – Fried Carp with Potato Salad

Christmas season has always been my favourite seasons of them all. It was the whole build up to Christmas which I personally enjoyed. Baking Christmas sweets at my grandma’s kitchen, shopping for presents, decorating house with lights and then the actual Christmas Day. It brings back sweet memories of my childhood where all of us would gather on the morning of 24th December to decorate Christmas tree. We would watch Christmas fairy-tales, nibble on Christmas sweet and wrapping last of Christmas presents, dad frying carp and schnitzel for dinner whiles potato salad is resting in the fridge.

Then the traditional Czech dinner of fried carp with potato salad and carp soup would be served – with everyone hoping that there won’t be any trip to A&E due to swollen carp bone. With dinner being over, me and my little brother would go to the window watch the sky and look out for Ježíšek and listening if he entered the living room and left some presents for us.  Meanwhile, a bell would ring. After that, we would run to a living room where there were all these presents around the Christmas tree.

As Christmas are knocking on our doors let me share with you my grandma’s recipe for this traditional Christmas feast and yes it is a feast!

Christmas and Carp go together like a hand and glove, at least when considering what we, Czechs refer to as a traditional Christmas. First mentions of carp for Christmas stretch as far back as the 17th century. The original fried carp recipe, still used to this day, has been attributed to Magdalena Dobromila Retigova, lady who is to be considered by many the mother of Czech cuisine. In her cookery book from 1826 was carp and especially potato salad considered a pheasant food which included various leftovers from any meals.

PREP: Potato salad: 15minues – Carp: 1 hour (if bought cleaned and cut into fillets)

COOK: Potato salad: 1 hour – Carp: 15 minutes                                                                       SERVES: 4

Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 4 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 200g celery roots (cleaned and diced)
  • 1 parsnip (peeled and diced)
  • 150g gherkins (diced)
  • 100g of frozen peas
  • 1 onion (peeled, blanched, and diced)
  • pinch of salt and grounded pepper
  • 3 tbsp. of vinegar or brine from gherkins
  • 100 -150g mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. of Dijon mustard or to a taste
  • 2 boiled eggs and few slices of ham for decoration
  • 1 thick Czech sausage (called Spekacek) shredded

Method:

Preferably the day before, boil potatoes in skin for about 15‑20 minutes, depending on their size, check with a knife whether they are soft. Let them cool down, peel and cut into cubes about 1 × 1 cm.

Peel carrot, celery root and parsnip and cook them in salted water 10‑15 minutes until tender but not overcooked. With five minutes to go place the onion quarters into the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Onions only require four to five minutes at high heat to blanch to al dente. Take the vegetable out of water, let cool down and cut in small pieces. (Root vegetable in to small cubes, onion dice finely)

Cut the gherkin in small cubes ((leaving the brine for seasoning) Prepare hard-boiled eggs, peel and cut in pieces. Defrost green peas (or rinse the sterilized one and drain).

Mix all ingredients carefully in a bowl, add mayonnaise, shredded sausage, Dijon mustard and some pickle brine with mixed salt and pepper.

Leave to cool down entirely then refrigerate overnight. When serve halves the boiled eggs and decorate with rolled ham slices.

Breaded Fried Carp

 Ingredients:

  • 1kg carp (about 6 fillets)
  • pinch of salt
  • 40gr for flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 50gr of milk
  • 150gr breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil

Method:

Debone, remove skin and clean fish, pat dry. Salt the carp fillets and dip in flour, then egg/milk mixture, and finally breadcrumbs. Fry slowly on all sides in hot oil until golden brown.

Tip: soak the carp fillets in a milk over night or at least two hours prior to frying. This will take the fish smell away and softens the meat.

Dobrou chut and Merry Christmas!

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