Sunday 18 March 2007

lithuanian pickled fish

In my quest to cook my way around the world I have now managed to cook a variety of recipes from 30 different countries, and yet I find myself leaning towards a few national cuisines more regularly. Perhaps it’s because they are more familiar to me, in both method and ingredients, and that I prefer the flavours?

Apart from influences from Australian, British and American chefs in their reinventions of the English speaking world’s traditional cuisine, I seem to have been heavily influenced by Mediterranean cooking.

Italian food features most prominently with Greece and Spain getting some decent kitchen time as well. Mexican food shines through, influenced by our close friends and bridal party compadres, Robot & Bicky, while Indian food, with its flavoursome vegetarian options, also plays an important role in our home.

Today’s recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging was quite outside the usual as I attempted a Lithuanian recipe from an enlightening cookbook called The Jewish Kitchen. Author Clarissa Hyman attended a Rosh Hashanah lunch in Trondheim (Norway) where she was presented with this wonderful pickled fish made by a descendant of Lithuanian Jews.

The result was firm pieces of fish in a sweet-sour sauce. In fact the overall flavour composition was very sweet and matched the white fish well.

As I was making the brine, the smells wafting from the pot made me think of the sweet brine used in Sweden's inlagd sill (a type of pickled herring). I love inlagd sill so much and I couldn’t help tweaking this Lithuanian recipe just a little to add my own spicy input (some peppercorns and allspice).

Marinuota Žuvis (Lithuanian Pickled Fish)
Recipe by Henriette Kahn, Rosa Kahn & Ida Ullman from The Jewish Kitchen by Clarissa Hyman. Serves a buffet of 8 people.

2 lb 4 oz halibut steaks
7/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 3/8 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ cups water
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3-4 bay leaves
1 lemon, finely sliced
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1) Combine all ingredients (except for fish) in a large pot and boil gently for 20 minutes.
2) Remove from heat, add fish steaks, cover then leave until mixture reaches room temperature.
3) Transfer fish to deep serving dish then spoon sauce over the top.
4) Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
Anna’s variations:
• I added 10 whole black peppercorns and 6 whole allspice berries.
• I also used red onions to add colour to the dish as the onions become bright pink during the brining process.
• I used flaked almonds instead of chopped.
• I had to use swordfish since halibut isn’t easily available at Sydney fish mongers.

The herb I used in this recipe was obviously the bay leaf. I use both fresh and dried bay leaves in my cooking but in this case I used dried leaves as they have a more pronounced flavour.

I have used bay leaves in a previous WHB entry and learnt that they can have a narcotic effect. Strange but true!

This week’s host for WHB is Becky from Key Lime & Coconut and I wish her luck for the mammoth task of writing the round-up!



  1. I love 'pickled fish'. I just bought some and it was so awful I threw it out - which I very rarely do.
    This inspires me to make my own.
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  2. Thirty countries! Very impressive. I agree that a lot of the Mediterranean countries seem to have food that is appealing. I don't think I've ever had anything quite like this, or any other Lithuanian food, for that matter.

  3. I love pickled fish and am sad to find no good one, so like Katie I´ve often to throw it away. So thank you I´ll be able to do my own. I´ll let you hear when I did it the first time.

  4. I just made the fish and look forward to tomorrow night to enjoy it! The last ingredient on the recipe says "salt," but there is no indication as to how much or when to put it in. My intuition told me to just leave it out and to provide salt with the fish to be used as desired. Please advise. Larry

  5. hi larry - the salt is really just a pinch or so, to taste. i put it in the brining solution but you could add if afterwards. it shouldn't make much difference.


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