Carp Stuffed with Caramelized Onions and Paprika

Carp-grivadi-is one of the great sweet-water fish of northern Greece. It is cooked in all sorts of dishes, from stews, to baked, to soups. This dish, based on a traditional regional recipe, calls for adding a local touch at the end-a sprinkling of walnuts.

2-4 servings
  • 1 large carp about 1-1 Β½ kilos (3 lbs.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin northern Greek olive oil
  • 6 large onions, 4 of them coarsely chopped and 2 of them finely chopped. Keep the coarsely-chopped onions separate from the finely-chopped ones
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste or Β½ kilo (1 lb.) fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. paprika
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, not parboiled
  • Β½ cup rose wine
  • 4 Tbs. sultanina raisins
  • 2 Tbs. ground walnuts

Wash, gut and scale the fish. Carefully remove the gills. Season the fish with salt and pepper and set aside, refrigerated, until ready to use. Heat half the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet and cook the four coarsely chopped onions over low heat, covered, until soft, about 10 minutes. Dilute the tomato paste in three tablespoons water and add to the onions, together with the paprika. Stir. The onions will acquire a deep reddish color. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy skillet and slowly cook the two finely chopped onions, covered, until they are lightly caramelized. Sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking until their color darkens. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil. Add the wine. When it cooks off, add Β½ cup water and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the raisins. Spread the tomato-onion mixture on the bottom of a large baking pan. Fill the cavity of the fish with the rice mixture. Using toothpicks, secure the cavity closed. Place the stuffed fish.

Sprinkle with the paprika. Cover and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the fish is fork tender. Five minutes before removing from the oven, mix the walnuts with a little salt and sprinkle over and around the fish. Remove, cool slightly, and serve. An intense rose Xinomavro complements the rich texture of this dish. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even try it with a red Xinomavro.

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