Polish cooking, Aspic of Pike, Written by Lechu
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Getting a quality pike is not easy. Margaret gets her pikes at Lafayette Road store. After cleaning fish you cut head and tail off (save these parts!) and divide rest into 3 in. wide steaks. Then prepare broth by cooking 4 carrots, 4 parsley roots (you can substitute it with parsnip roots) and 4 small onions in 3 cups of water. Add half teaspoon salt, pepper and a spoon of sugar. When vegetables are soft, add fish, including head and tail, and slowly cook fish for around 15 minutes.
Cool mixture down, and transfer fish to a platter, trying to reassemble fish again. You may put something whimsical in its mouth, like an egg or a small fruit. Or a mouse. You know, pikes are carnivores… Decorate with slices of cooked carrots.
Strain broth and refrigerate it. If it turns solid, you are lucky. It means there was enough gelatin in head and tail. If it does not solidify, add a little gelatin, not more than a quarter packet, dissolve and refrigerate. Warm up solidified broth gently, and pour over fish. Refrigerate again. When solid, decorate with lemon slices, and parsley leaves.
Serve with sauces, such as tartar or horseradish.
Polish people subscribe to old Roman proverb, that “fish enjoys swimming.” Therefore consume this delicious, sophisticated dish with some well frozen vodka, or a glass of light white wine.
Polish cooking (Operatic bigos, also known as hunters’ stew ) Written by Lechu
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Cook slowly, mix frequently, for at least three hours. From time to time add some red wine, to replenish water that evaporated.
Typically, for each glass of added wine, cook drinks two glasses. Under these conditions after a while we are ready to start singing operatic arias. Traditionally, sopranos sing an aria from “Halka”, by Polish composer, Stanislaw Moniuszko: “In morning sun…” Mezzo-sopranos, like Ola, often choose aria of Hedwig, from “The Haunted Manor” by same composer, “I am running, and listening to forests…” Since there are no bigos’ arias available for altos, they are entitled to some extra wine instead. Tenors are known for their preferences for aria “La donna e mobile…” from “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi, baritones prefer polonaise aria from “The Haunted Manor” by Moniuszko – “One of my daughters, who will give her heart…”, while basses are recommended not to sing while cooking, since very low voices are known to turn bigos sour. If after completing of several arias, bigos is still not ready we may invite other family members, friends or household pets to practice dances from (preferably) Polish operas. Dogs are known to enjoy mazurkas, while cats definitely prefer polonaises. Birds do not enjoy dancing. If we have any household birds, we may consider them as a delicious addition to our bigos, enriching its flavor.
While bigos is cooking, we are stirring it from time to time, singing and dancing, but after a while we may feel tired of this operatic cooking. That means that process of operatic bigos making is complete. The next day, when bigos in our large pot has cooled down, and we are recovering from a hangover, it is time to transfer it to big jars, and keep refrigerated for at least two days. Bigos may be reheated several times. While bigos matures in cold, we have time to expand our operatic repertoire to be ready to make another batch of operatic bigos.