🇵🇱 Poland: Pike Ballotine with Old Polish Gray Sauce

Fish in gray sauce is one of the oldest Polish dishes, appearing in the first printed Polish cookbook, Compendium Ferculorum by Stanislaw Czerniecki, published in 1595. The sauce was traditionally also used with meats, but from the 17th century, when the Cistercian Order popularized carp in Poland, fish in gray sauce became a staple of Polish Christmas tables. The dish also appeared in almost every cookbook printed until the beginning of the 20th century. For many years, it was not as popular, but today this dish is not only on the EU Traditional Specialties Guaranteed list, but it is also becoming increasingly common on Christmas tables and in restaurant menus.

For the full experience, play this traditional tune while prepping the recipe!

🇵🇱 Poland: Pike Ballotine with Old Polish Gray Sauce

Servings 5
Cook Time 2 hours



  • 1 pound pike fillets or another white freshwater fish
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Old Polish Gray Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


  • Take the fish fillets and cut two 1×10” strips of fish, set aside in the fridge. Cut the remainder into cubes and add to a food processor with the salt. Pulse until salt is fully incorporated and fish is blended into a smooth, homogeneous mousse. Slowly add heavy cream while pulsing. Move fish mousse to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • On a 15×15” piece of cling wrap, spread half of the fish mousse to form into a 2×10” rectangle. Lay the two cut fish strips on top, then cover with rest of the mousse and roll into a tight cylinder. Tie the ends and let it rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
  • For the sauce, slowly heat the sugar in a saucepan until golden brown and set aside. In another pan, make a roux with the butter and flour, then add the fish stock and cook for one minute. Add the roux and fish stock mixture to the browned sugar and add the heavy cream, raisins, almonds, salt, and red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil and set aside.
  • Cook the fish ballotine sous vide for 30 minutes at 143°F or poach for 20 minutes just below boiling point.
  • When cooked, cut in slices and spoon the sauce on top.

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