Polish ‘Fish’- Tofu po Grecku

Polish ‘fish’ in Greek style is a classic dish at a Polish Christmas- that’s not to say we can’t enjoy this tofu ‘po Grecku’ at our festive table elsewhere in the world!

Polish fish plated up

It’s official, it’s nearly Christmas! I love this time of year when the lights and trees go up, and there’s this magical, cosy feeling everywhere you go.

Last year was mine and Remi’s third Christmas together, and for the first time we spent it in Poland with his family. It was the first time I had spent Christmas away from home, and a very different experience to an English Christmas.

How does Polish Christmas look?

In Poland Christmas is mainly celebrated on Christmas eve, or Wigilia, with a meal of 12 different dishes. You spend the day making a lot of food, which you eat throughout the evening of Wigilia (and for several days afterwards!). The consumption of meat is not allowed before midnight, but there is still cheese and fish at the table. 

Remi and his parents did an amazing job at planning vegan alternatives to some traditional Polish dishes for Christmas Eve. One of the dishes was an alternative to ‘Greek style’ Polish fish. Admittedly, there’s nothing Greek about this fish- it’s unknown where the name of the dish came from!

I love this version of the recipe as it’s just perfect for the two of us- a taste of Polish Christmas without all of the excess.

What is Polish fish?

Polish fish or fish ‘po Grecku’ is a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dish. Usually, it consists of white fish, lightly dredged in flour, and fried. This fried fish is topped with a mixture of grated carrot, parsnip and spices, which have been cooked down until soft and sweet.

Polish fish plated up with brocolli in background

It sounds so simple, and yet it’s so delicious! 

How to make the vegan fish fillet

Obviously with this being a vegan recipe, I wouldn’t use any real fish for my Polish fish! Instead, I make vegan fish fillets using slices of firm tofu. The trick to making this vegan fish is to leave it to marinade for at least an hour, or even overnight if you have the time. 

For this dish, I like to slice the tofu into pieces roughly 2cm thick. I use extra firm tofu for this as I find it doesn’t need pressing beforehand. If you only have medium or firm tofu, I would recommend pressing the block for a few hours before marinating.

The marinade consists of lemon juice and zest, caper brine, and white wine vinegar. Caper brine is my first choice, but if you don’t have any, you can easily use brine from a jar of olives. Mix the marinade together, and pour it over the slices of tofu in a wide bowl or deep tray. 

After they have finished marinating, wrap a strip of nori around each piece. Dip the nori wrapped tofu in the remaining marinade to wet it, then dredge the tofu pieces in plain flour. Heat the olive oil in a good non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the tofu pieces, making sure that they are not touching. Fry for 3 minutes on the first side- it should be crispy and golden. Flip the tofu, and cook for 3 minutes again on the other side. You may need to add a little more oil after the first flip if your pan is looking a little dry.

And that’s it! These vegan fish fillets are not only good for Polish fish, so if you don’t fancy trying the whole recipe, I would at least encourage you to give these a whirl, and serve alongside rice and veggies.

How to cook tofu ‘po Grecku’

Making the topping for the dish is really easy. First you finely slice the onion and leek, and grate the carrot and parsnip. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, this can really speed things up here.

Next, heat a little oil in a wide saucepan over a medium heat, and add the onion. Fry for around 3 minutes until it’s starting to soften, then add the leek, carrot and parsnip. Reduce the heat a little and cook, stirring, for around 4 minutes until the vegetables begin to cook down. 

Add the allspice berries, bay leaves, sweet paprika, tomato puree, and wholegrain mustard if using. Mix well, and continue to cook for around 15 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Now the carrot and parsnip should be cooked through, and the spices nicely infused. 

When you’re ready to eat, remove the bay leaves and allspice berries. Plate up the vegan fish, and top it with a good scoop of the carrot mixture.

Can I prepare Polish ‘fish’ in advance?

You can most certainly prepare the topping for the Polish fish in advance. In fact, the flavour of the topping only gets better with time, so preparing it a day or two in advance would definitely work in it’s favour. Store it in an airtight container for up to 4 days, and reheat it in a pan until piping hot.

Whilst you can slice the tofu and put it in it’s marinade a day or two beforehand, I would recommend frying the tofu just before eating. This way, it will retain its lovely crispy coating.

Fancy trying some other Polish Wigilia recipes?

And if you’re going down the more traditional Christmas dinner route this year…

Check out my post on what to cook for a vegan Christmas dinner for two.

Enjoy!

Plated up Polish fish

Polish Fish- Tofu po Grecku

Chloe from Forkful of Plants
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Marinating time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Polish
Servings 2
Greek style Polish ‘fish' is a classic dish at Polish Christmas- that’s not to say we can’t enjoy this tofu ‘po Grecku’ at our festive table!

Ingredients
  

For the vegan fish fillets

  • 300 g firm tofu
  • 1 lemon ½ zested and whole juiced
  • 1 tbsp caper brine*
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 sheet sushi nori
  • 70 g plain flour

For the topping

  • 1 brown onion thinly sliced
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 1 small parsnip grated
  • 3 carrots grated
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard optional

Instructions
 

For the vegan fish fillets

  • Slice the block of tofu into 6 equally sized pieces.
  • Mix together the lemon juice and zest, caper brine, and white wine vinegar, and pour it over the slices of tofu in a wide bowl or deep tray. Leave to marinate for at least an hour.
  • After they have finished marinating, wrap a strip of nori around each piece. Dip the nori wrapped tofu in the remaining marinade to wet it, then dredge the tofu pieces in plain flour.
  • Heat the olive oil in a good non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the tofu pieces, making sure that they are not touching. Fry for 3 minutes on the first side until crispy and golden. Flip the tofu, and cook for 3 minutes again on the other side. Place to one side.

For the topping

  • Heat a little oil or vegetable broth in a wide saucepan over a medium heat, and add the onion. Fry for around 3 minutes until it's starting to soften.
  • Add the leek, carrot and parsnip. Reduce the heat a little and cook, stirring, for around 4 minutes until the vegetables begin to cook down. 
  • Add the allspice berries, bay leaves, sweet paprika, tomato puree, and wholegrain mustard if using. Mix well, and continue to cook for around 15 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the allspice berries and bay leaves. Plate up the vegan fish fillets and top them with a good scoop of the carrot mixture. Enjoy!

Notes

*Caper brine is my first choice, but if you don’t have any, you can easily use brine from a jar of olives.

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