Recently I got an email from Lidija in Sydney. She wrote that growing up as a kid and teenager she would have a particular fish and tomato dish served at church confirmation celebrations. Lidija’s mother had passed away 30 years ago and she cannot find a recipe for this dish.
I searched through my cookbooks (some of them are reprints from early 20th century), but I could not locate a recipe that would explain how this dish would have been made nearly 100 years ago. However, fish in tomato and carrot sauce, served cold, still is a fairly popular party dish (served as salad), so here goes my version of it.
Lidija, I hope it hits the mark!
- 1kg white-fleshed fish
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 large onion
- 3 medium carrots
- 250g tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- Oil for frying, salt and pepper
- Cut the fish in 5cm cubes, season with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs. Roll the fish pieces in flour, then dip in the egg and place on a preheated pan. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.
- Thinly slice onion and coarsely grate carrots. Place the onions in a saucepan and fry until translucent. Add grated carrots and continue to fry for couple more minutes until carrots have softened.
- Add tomato paste to the saucepan and mix well. Mix together vinegar and water, add to the saucepan. Season well and simmer for 5 - 7 minutes until the sauce slightly thickens.
- Cover the bottom of serving dish with a 1/3 of the sauce. Place the cooked fish on top, cover with the remaining sauce.
- Place overnight in the fridge to marinate. Serve cold.
I have made this recipe with barramundi and cod and I find that cod works better as it is flakier and absorbs the sauce more. You can replace the tomato paste with a tin of condensed tomato soup; if soup is used, reduce the amount of water to 1/2 cup. You can add herbs (parsley, dill, basil) or finely sliced capsicum to the sauce for extra flavour.
November 10, 2014
This dish is my brothers very favorite thing to eat! My Tante Elze would add Italian bottled dressing to the tomatoe paste for seasoning in the 60’s. We never did add the carrots as I recall on our side of the family. My Onkuls Victors was the fisherm and my Tante Valija would always have a tub of this fish dish in the fridge 24/7. They would even marinate smelts in this same sauce.
October 14, 2015
Finding a decent barramundi is almost impossible .. the farm grown stuff is tasteless. The natural wild caught fish are the only ones worth eating for it’s true flavour. The barra from Thailand fish farms are hopeless.
September 4, 2016
My mom would make it with carmelized onions and then marinate the fried fish (no egg) with onions in French dressing. To this day I still love it that way.
February 17, 2017
Great inspiration for the latvian dinner me and my friends have planned for tonight
March 21, 2017
I love this one! It was our family staple. It is absolutely delicious. I was looking for exactly this – onions AND carrots with tomato sauce. Thank you, Liva!
July 16, 2017
It looks like a favourite Russian “ryba pod marinadom”. You can find dozens of variations of this recipe
April 16, 2022
This is a very good recipe. Tastes just like I remembered it from my childhood—the perfect balance between sour, salt & sweet. (This was often included in the buffet/“cold table”/ aukstais galds of special occasions. Traditionally it is served cold/room temperature, but it works as a hot dish also. The inclusion of the grated carrots is inspired. I sometimes omit the egg wash on the fish & just dredge it in seasoned flour. My mamma would use perch filets, but any non oily white fish filets will work.
The sweet/sour agrodolce vibe is distinctly reminiscent of Sicilian flavour (using ingredients available in Latvia) and could have been popularised in the early 20th century when the famous Sicilian author Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (author of “The Leopard” ) spent his summers with his wife Alexandra von Wolff-Stomersee at her “muiža”/ palace in Stāmeriena, Latvia. Allegedly she couldn’t bear the summer heat in Lampedusa, the Island just south of Sicily. A friend of our family grew up in Stāmeriene in the 1920s and she said at that time there was a big Italian influence there in all sorts of ways, including food. . She said every other boy born seemed to be called Bruno or Guido.
April 23, 2022
Thank you for sharing this story! I find food history fascinating, and, more often than not, I discover that dishes we think are uniquely ours are shared across many cultures.
December 20, 2022
I am about to make this dish for Christmas Eve. I always use a large glass bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce. My mother in law used to make it this way. My husband loves it.