Honestly, I can never remember whether this recipe is Called Polish Fish with Greek Sauce or Greek Fish with Polish Sauce. When my sister Wendy, my beautiful niece, Tal, and I made it a couple of weeks ago in Florida, we took to calling it Confused Fish. But that makes me think of demented finned cartoon characters, so I can’t call it that.
The original recipe came from my nephew Max’s ex-girlfriends’s mother. My sister first tasted it years ago and fell so head over heels in love with it that she tried to find out how it was made. The cook was more than willing to share her ingredients and technique, but there was apparently a language barrier. So, being a talented cook, Wendy took on the challenge of recreating the dish herself. This was quite a number of years ago, and at this point, she really has little idea how much “our” version resembles the original. But it is unusual and delicious, and that’s really all that matters.
Wendy and I have both done a bit of research, and this sort of dish does appear to be a thing. It’s called Ryba Po Grecku, which translates from Polish into something like Polish Fish in the Greek Style, although there is nothing Greek about it. There is some speculation that it is a bastardization of “a la Greque,” which is about pickling. It would be a stretch to describe this dish as pickled. But who am I to argue with semantics?
There are a number of variations, but the gist appears to consist of a bed of vegetables, mostly carrots, with fish either on top or embedded. It is delicious either hot or cold. Wendy often makes extra so she can serve it right out of the oven for dinner, and then leftovers straight out of the fridge the next day. That’s what we did when we visited a couple of weeks ago; we sent some home with Mom and Dad, and ate the rest standing at the kitchen counter the next day.
Polish Fish with Greek Sauce
I made this for two for the photos, but I’m giving you a recipe for 4. Suffice it to say, the proportions are flexible, and it’s very easy to adjust for however many people you are serving.
Make this gluten free by using GF panko, or skipping the panko entirely. Wendy uses a bit of cornstarch and sautés the fish, which is a terrific option. And you can skip the milk soak if your fish is impeccably fresh or you’re pressed for time.
2 pounds white fish*
½ cup milk**
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
¾ cup panko
1 very large onion, minced
8-10 big carrots, grated
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen fire roasted)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs. light brown sugar
1 tbs. smoked paprika
pinch (adjust to taste) cayenne
salt, to taste
*I used halibut here. Mahi mahi is good, as is grouper or cod.
**It turns out that soaking fish in milk does indeed eliminate any pesky fishiness and makes the flesh sweet and mild.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place the panko in a microwave safe bowl, drizzle with 1 tbs. of the olive oil and a pinch of salt, and mix well. Microwave for 1 minute, or until the crumbs begin to brown. Mix and set aside to cool.
Cut the fish into 4 equal pieces, season with salt and pepper, and place in a bowl with the milk. Refrigerate while you prep the veggies.
Heat 1 tbs. of the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Saute the onion for a few minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients, and bring to simmer. Cook over low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take a look and see how much liquid is in the bottom of the pan. If it’s soupy, crank up the heat a bit and leave the cover off to evaporate some of the liquid. If it’s fairly dry, continue to cook over low heat while you make the fish.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the panko in a shallow pan. Take the filets out of the milk and let the excess fishy milk drain off before dredging each piece in the crumbs. Place the fish on the baking sheet and give the fish milk to the cat. Whatever you do, don’t trip over the bowl, you don’t want to have to wipe that off the floor. Ew. Bake the fish for 15 minutes or until it is cooked through.
Serve the fish on top of the stewy carrots. Some extra lemon is welcome.
This week, I am donating a dollar to the ACLU for every new Instagram follower .Don’t even get me started on what’s going on in the world, but I just had to do SOMETHING. So, if you know anyone who isn’t already following me on Insta, get them to do so this week.
And…because life goes on, I have a beautiful kilnload of new pots and have begun posting them on Propped. I’ll post some on Etsy, too, but haven’t gotten started on that, yet. So, shop. Because everything feels just a bit better when you eat something delicious out of something handmade.