(A small) guide to the fishes of the Baltic Sea and more
Tourists spending their holidays at the seaside in Poland are beckoned by signboards of fried fish stands and restaurants. Not all fishes come ‘right from the sea’, not all from the Baltic Sea. It does not mean they are of worse quality or taste. But before you decide against fish and order a pizza, spare a while to learn more about the topic to have a chance to taste the best fish species and visit recommended places.
There are a number of speculations about what species of fishes live in the Baltic Sea. There is no question that one of them is herring. The most delicious specimens of this familiar fish are matjes herring, that is young herring that occur in the North Sea. As they are more oily, their taste is milder. They are caught between May and June. Whereas Baltic herring, traditionally, are fished throughout the year. In Kashubia, they are both served in oil with onions or in cream with jacket potatoes. Such dishes are offered by a regional restaurant Velevetka in the Old Town in Gdańsk. Moreover, the chef of Bulaj, a restaurant in Sopot, recommends matjes herring served with carrots and asparagus.
As regards freshly caught fish, try turbot. These delicious fish are caught from the end of June to August. In Zafishowani, another must-visit fish restaurant in the Tricity, we can have a fried turbot fillet with lovage sauce, asparagus and butter potatoes. In Metamorfoza it is served with peas and salad rocket. In the turbot fishing season, that is throughout the summer, also flounder are fished – they can be found in restaurant menus in seaside towns and cities.
Another fish that occurs in the Baltic Sea is sander. This member of the Percidae family comes to the sea from freshwaters and inhabits coastal waters, such as e.g. Gdańsk Bay. Bulaj serves it in a modern version with ‘kaszotto’ [a dish similar to risotto, but made with buckwheat instead of rice], whereas Velevetka will delight you with its version of sander with Kashubian garnish.
Cod are one of the most valued fishes, which also occur in Polish fisheries. There are two stocks of cod – eastern and western. “The most important for the Polish fishery is the eastern stock, from which we catch cod from the beginning of July to the end of August,” Zbigniew Karnicki says, PhD, National Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Gdynia. “But in Poland, Atlantic cod occur quite often as well,” he adds.
Among the fishes of the Baltic Sea, there are also sprats and sea trout, often underestimated. The latter can be found in the menu of the restaurant Wave in Sheraton Sopot Hotel. Trout is served there as a refined appetizer, smoked with sweet cherries and apples, as well as rillettes with saffron aglio olio, fennels in oranges, and olive and salicornia tapenade. Possible? Possible.
There are also other fishes that occur in the Baltic Sea. For example, mackerel. “90% of mackerel come from the North Sea or the Atlantic,” Zbigniew Karnicki says. Similarly to salmon which sometimes occur in the Baltic Sea. Fishes from other seas should not be regarded as worse. For instance, in Krew i Woda, a restaurant in Gdynia, one can have mainly fishes from the North Sea – the coasts of the Netherlands or Scotland. These are absolutely fresh and uncontaminated fishes and seafood. If you want to know where a particular fish comes from, ask your waiter.
And remember that Pomerania is not all about sea fishes. There is also a wide range of freshwater fishes, including roach, which occur in the Kashubian Lake District. Some of them come from fish cultures, so we do not need to worry about their over-exploitation.
1. Velevetka, Gdańsk
2. Zafishowani, Gdańsk
3. Kubicki, Gdańsk
4. Metamorfoza, Gdańsk
5. Bulaj, Sopot
6. Polskie Smaki, Sheraton Sopot Hotel
7. Restauracja Pieterwas Krew i Woda, Gdynia
8. Biała, Hotel Bryza Resort&Spa, Jurata
9. Czarny Kos, Borkowo near Żukowo
10. Pałac Poraj, Poraj near Łeba
Content consultant: National Marine Fisheries Research Institute