Sweet and Sour Fish


In Eastern Europe, sweet-and-sour fish is generally prepared with carp. In France it is known as carpe a la Juive (Jewish-style carp) and it was traditional to serve the head of the fish to the head of the house at Jewish New Year. This recipe uses fish steaks rather than a whole fish.


  • 6 fish steaks, such as carp, pike, salmon or trout, 2.5 cm/1 in thick (1.5 kg/3 lb total weight)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4-6 whole cloves

  • 1 lemon, sliced and pips removed

  • 2-4 slices fresh root ginger

  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns

  • 125 ml/4 fl oz red wine vinegar

  • 125 g/4 oz light brown sugar

  • 75 g/3 oz raisins

  • 4 ginger biscuits, crushed to crumbs (optional)

  • 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • Lemon twists for garnish

  1. Rinse fish steaks under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.

  2. In a large, non-aluminum deep frying pan combine the onion, carrot, bay leaf, cloves, lemon slices, root ginger and peppercorns with 900 m1/1 pt cold water. Over high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

  3. Add fish steaks and cook over medium-low heat, covered, until fish pulls away from centre bone and turns opaque, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a fish slice, carefully transfer fish steaks to a large, deep glass or ceramic baking dish.

  4. Bring cooking liquid to a boil again and boil until reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes. Strain into a smaller saucepan and add the vinegar, brown sugar and raisins. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes longer, stir in the ginger biscuit crumbs, if using, and chopped parsley. Cool slightly, then pour over the fish. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled, garnished with lemon twists.

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