The Baltic Sea, the Bay of Gdańsk, Vistula Lagoon, the queen of Polish rivers – Vistula, Kashubian lakes, or rivers of the Żuławy Loop. Pomorskie offers richness of different kinds of fish unlike anywhere in Poland. Freshwater and saltwater fish find their way to plates not only in fine dining restaurants, but also in most of the region’s households.
-Freshwater and saltwater fish is the most basic distinction – explains Grzegorz Labuda, one of the most acclaimed chefs in Poland, responsible for the extraordinary culinary offer of Szafarnia 10 Restaurant in Gdańsk. – Our region’s cuisine spoils us, and us, chefs, are lucky and happy to be able to have access to fish from both environments. Sea provides us with cod, salmon, flounder, turbot, herring, sprat, or pike perch. Freshwater fish, on the other hand, from all rivers, lakes, and ponds include: pike, carp, perch, amur, eel, bream and crucian carp.
Although freshwater fish are gaining popularity, and chefs use them in their recipes more and more often, it’s saltwater fish that have the largest “fanbase”. Daniel Chrzanowski, head chef of Zafishowani Restaurant in Hanza Hotel in Gdańsk, confirms popularity of seawater fish, but doesn’t let us forget about what’s best in our lakes and rivers.
-The most popular fish are, of course, cod and herring. However, we have to remember about Baltic turbot and flounder. At the same time, let’s not forget about our lakes, which are full to the brim with bass, roach, and pike. Traditional, old Gdańsk recipes also often include rainbow trout.
Which fish are the finest, and which are “best” for chefs to work with? Grzegorz Labuda, author of several culinary books who has cooked, among other, for president of the United States, George Bush, is certain that the less human-controlled environment, the better quality. – Everyone asks themselves: “which fish are the best, the finest?”. To my mind, the more natural, the better. Natural food, lack of human control over the environment yields best results. Recently, in restaurants that I worked at, I noticed growing interest in sweet water fish. I talked to guests, asked, analysed, and I came to the conclusion that currently the best, more healthy – which means more “wild” and natural – are freshwater fish! – says chef Grzegorz Labuda.
This is why menu in Szafarnia 10 Restaurant includes, among others, perch fillet, and confit sturgeon fillet. The menu also offers marinated Baltic herring, crispy flounder, or trout steak tartare. Trout comes from a farm in Zielenica, one of the most valued farms among chefs.
When preparing fish at home, or ordering in a restaurant, we need to keep in mind when fishing took place, and if its fishing time really guarantees its freshness, i.e. if it’s straight from the net, or not.
Each kind of fish has its ideal fishing period, usually at the peak of its growth. Cod, for instance, is best fished for during autumn and winter, contrary to the popular belief that summer is its best time. High fishing restrictions due to cod spawning season during summer greatly limit deliveries. Flounder season is in May and June. Herring can be consumed all year round, really. Depending on the time of year, this fish is going to be more or less fatty – says Daniel Chrzanowski.
In the menu composed by Daniel Chrzanowski, you will find, among other, fried cod with creamy béchamel, with warm salad of Brussels sprouts, and Baltic herring fillet with vegetables, in a buttery wine sauce.
Where in Pomorskie can we get best fish? Gdynia Market Hall is famous for its rich offer. It’s a place of great fishing traditions. For years, a hall has existed dedicated especially to fishermen and fish merchants. If you’re looking for fresh fish, it’s best to buy them from fishermen, straight from the net, in Władysławowo, Hel, Gdynia, or Górki Zachodnie in Gdańsk. You cannot forget about Żuławy Wiślane or Vistula Spit. There are plenty of local fish shops, where each morning fishermen deliver fresh fish from local waters.
Fishing tradition in Pomorskie is both history and future of the region. Ordering a fish in a restaurant is an obligatory thing to do when visiting Pomorskie.