Stuffed fish Odesa cuisine

Stuffed fish

The most important thing to know about stuffed fish is that you will never outdo your granny.
Just accept this fact before deciding to get down to this painstaking task.
Well, I make stuffed fish, although I know it will never be No.1 in my personal top charts.
If you are taking a chance after all, here is my signature recipe.
Please note that the process is very complex and requires extraordinary precision and carefulness.


4-6 serves

1 medium sander (of around 1.1kg)

300g carp fillet

300g pike fillet

9 fresh barn eggs

1 tbsp semolina

4kg white onions

600ml sunflower oil

400g early potatoes

2-3 beetroots, around 300g

2 medium carrots

150g butter

120g white bun

150ml milk

Ground black pepper


Bay leaf

Allspice and black peppercorns




1. Take the whole sander, carp and pike. Gill and gut them, remove the eyes.

2. Skin the fish, sparing a thin layer of subcutaneous fat.

3. Cut the skin in 6x7cm rectangles.

4. Separate the fillet from bones and fins. Use fish bone tweezers if necessary. Be sure to remove even the smallest bones.

5. Thinly slice the onions and put them in a sauté pan with a thick bottom. Pour the oil and sauté over the lowest heat. Keep stirring. The onions should gradually become jellied.

6. Grind the fish fillet in a meat grinder with a fine plate, one time only. Feed the cooled onions and milk-soaked soft part of the white bun through the meat grinder together with the fish.

7. Add 4 yolks, 5 eggs, the salt and the semolina to the stuffing. Incorporate the butter, brought to room temperature.

8. Mix the stuffing with your hands. It is recommended to wet hands with cold water first.

9. Allow the ready stuffing to rest in a fridge for 30 minutes; cook the fish meanwhile.

10. Use a big sauté pan. Layer the fish bones first, then the beetroots, chopped into 2x2cm dices. Pour the water over to cover both the beetroots and the bones, bring to the boil. Remove the scum, add the bay leaf, the black peppercorns, the allspice and the salt. Cook the broth for 30 minutes over the low heat.

11.Take the stuffing out of the fridge, split it in oval balls of around 150g each. Use some stuffing to fill the fish heads. Use the yolk to stick pieces of the skin to the remaining oval balls. Each oval ball should be completely covered with the skin.

12. Strain the broth (we don't need the bones any more).

13. Put the fish balls and heads in the sauté pan. Add the diced potatoes, cooked beetroots and carrots. Pour the ready broth in, it is important to preserve the integrity of the balls. The broth should cover the fish. If you don't have enough broth, add some water.

14. Close the sauté pan with the lid, reduce the heat to the minimum and leave for 1.5-2 hours.


this is interesting

There are three ways to serve the stuffed fish. The first one is classical. Cool the fish right in the broth and serve as a cold appetiser with a spicy horseradish paste. You might add slices of the gelled broth and chilled vegetables. The second option substitutes the main course. Dish the fish out as soon as it is done, use the vegetables cooked in the broth as a side dish. The third option is my favourite. Put the heads and the balls in soup plates together with vegetables. Add the chopped parsley and pour the broth over.