912 Pike in the Jewish fashion with saffron

Shchuka po-zhidovski* s shafranom


  • 4–5 lb pike
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 glass table wine
  • 1 wineglass vinegar
  • ½ glass sultanas
  • ½ carrot
  • ½ parsley root
  • ½ celery root
  • spoons flour
  • spoons butter
  • 1–2 pieces sugar
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • ½ spoon honey, or 1 spoon treacle


Clean a 4–5 lb pike, cut into pieces, strew with salt, and set aside for at least an hour. Place in a saucepan and add ¼ glass vinegar and, if desired, 1 glass table wine. Add ½ glass or more sultanas, 2–3 lemon slices, seeded and trimmed of pith, and root vegetables, half-cooked in water. Barely cover the fish with the water in which the root vegetables were boiled and cook over a high flame, covered, until done. To serve, pour on the following sauce: Mix spoons each flour and butter, ½ teaspoon ground saffron, and 1 teaspoon of fine sugar. Mash these ingredients together and dilute with strained bouillon. Bring to a boil several times and, if desired, add ½ spoon honey or 1 spoon treacle. Bring to a boil once more and pour over the fish. Strew with boiled sultanas and slices of fresh lemon.

*Note that Molokhovets used the pejorative term po-zhidovski instead of the more neutral term poevrejski. It is a bit like calling the dish “Yid fish.” Alexis Soyer in the ninth edition of his well-known Gastronomic Regenerator (1861) gave three recipes for fish “in the Jewish style,” but all three recipes called for saltwater fish, whereas Molokhovets used only freshwater fish for this genre. The greater availability of saltwater fish in England allowed English jews to readily substitute them for freshwater varieties. Since the Russian and East European shtetls were landlocked for the most part, Jews from Eastern Europe were dependent on local fish for sustenance. Soyer suggested sautéing breaded brill filets, frying breaded smelts in oil, or stewing cod slices in a mixture of chopped onions, butter, Harvey sauce, essence of anchovies, and chili vinegar. If the recipes in both of these books are typical, and for many reasons we must assume they are, they show a marked contrast between the fish dishes associated with the English Jews and those of Eastern Europe.