As a member of the European Parliament, I get to attend various high-level events and dinners where excellent food is served. However, during my lunch breaks I often grab a quick takeaway since there is little time in between meetings and every minute is precious.
That is why I truly appreciate Christmas time – we come together as a family, and I can prepare homemade carp and share it with my loved ones in my home city of Bratislava.
We have been making oven-baked carp with white wine on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. It is a dish my grandmother started cooking decades ago and differs greatly from the traditional way of preparing carp for Christmas in Slovakia, which is by frying it.
Eating carp on Christmas is a tradition with deep roots in Slovakia: people used to catch their own fish from the river in the weeks before the holiday and keep it in the bathtub until Christmas Eve. This is not the case any more since we buy our fish already cleaned and prepared for baking. However, we have maintained many other traditional holiday foods such as sauerkraut soup and potato salad, which pairs perfectly with the carp.
The dish is homemade in many senses since my family has been producing wine for years. I started to learn how to make wine with my late grandparents and now continue the family tradition with my father and my brother: every fall, we use the equipment passed down by my grandparents to produce wine. We used to collect the grapes from our own vineyard but now we buy them from my father’s cousin who is a well-known winemaker in Slovakia. I use this homemade wine to prepare our Christmas Eve carp.
As a long-standing tradition in our family, oven-baked carp with white wine represents the epitome of Christmas for me. I hope to keep this little family tradition alive by passing it on to my children, and maybe also on to some of you.
As a long-standing tradition in our family, oven-baked carp with white wine represents the epitome of Christmas for me
- 3kg carp
- 200g butter
- 6 big onions
- 2-3 organic lemons
- 2-3 peppercorns per each fillet
- 1 bay leaf per each fillet
- A bunch of parsley
- At least 500ml white wine
- A large spoonful of salt
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Wash the carp and then dry it. If you are working with a whole carp, slice the fish from top to bottom into horseshoe-shaped fillets. Chop the onions finely and sprinkle them on the baking tray. Place the carp fillets on top of the onion and season them with salt.
On top of each carp fillet place a lemon slice, two to three peppercorns and one bay leaf. Chop the fresh parsley and sprinkle it liberally over the fillets. After that, slice the butter and put a generous amount on each fillet. Finally, pour white wine into the tray to cover the bottom but not the fillets. For a stronger wine taste, you can also lightly drizzle the fillets with it.
Cover the tray and let it stand for at least an hour in a cool place (I keep it on the balcony, but you can also put it in the fridge) and then bake in the preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes or until the top starts becoming golden in colour.