Fish au gratin is one of my family’s favorite dish at local Russian restaurant. My family has a deep bond with Russian food, and this dish is a must order every time.
I have been trying to recreate this dish at home for couple of times but didn’t satisfied with any of the result, until this time. The tricky part of this dish is, the authentic fish au gratin has a very soft and juicy sauce, which has a curdy texture, like tofu. But it also tastes very creamy, without being greasy. I tried to create the sauce by the way of cooking white sauce. Other times, I also tried add in lots of cheese like cooking Alfredo sauce. The dish turned out nice, but not as good as the one in the restaurant.
This time, I was inspired by the way of cooking Crème brûlée, since it has the texture I was looking for. But I did some tweaks, by adding milk and other spices, to balance the greasiness of heavy cream. The result was really exciting! And both of my parents agreed this one is really close to the authentic Russian fish au gratin.
The recipe looks a bit long, but you’ll find out it’s not so difficult to cook. This one is also good for party food, that you can prepare and cook beforehand, and reheat it right before serve.
Best Russian Fish au Gratin
- 300 g fish fillet tilapia, bass, or catfish, halved
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup mushroom sliced
- 1 teaspoon whiskey option
- 1/4 onion sliced
- 150 ml heavy cream
- 100 ml milk
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 small potato sliced
- 2 handful grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- Dry fish with paper towel and place on a plate. Add lemon juice, rubbed salt and black pepper on fish, marinate in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
- Heat a teaspoon oil in a non-sticky skillet till hot, in about 1 minute, add mushrooms and stir fry till turn soft, add salt, pepper and whiskey, continue to stir fry till all the liquid evaporate and mushrooms turn golden. Put mushrooms in a plate and set aside.
- Heat rest of oil in the same skillet and add onion, stir fry till onion turn soft and golden. Put in a plate and set aside.
- Add heavy cream and milk into a medium size bowl, add parsley, basil, white pepper, salt and egg yolks, stir till everything mix well. (* see footnote)
- Preheat oven till 180 degres C (350F).
- Place flour in a big plate and egg whites in another big plate. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a non-sticky skillet and heat on medium high heat. Coat each side of fish fillet with flour. When butter is melted and stop bubbling, dip both sides of fish fillet in egg whites, and place in the skillet immediately. Fry fish till the bottom side turns golden, then flip to fry the other side. When both sides are done, remove skillet from heat. Do not cook fish for too long time, since it will continue to cook in the oven.
- Grease 2 medium size baking dishes with the rest butter. Place half amount of onion in both dishes separately, add fish on top of onion, place potato slices against the wall of dish. Add the rest onion on top of fish, then place mushrooms on onion. Fill each dish with the milk mixture, around 2/3 of the dish or 1cm to the top. Top with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Place the baking dishes on baking tray, put in the bottom level of oven, bake till the cheese melts well and turns golden brown, in about 30 minutes. If cheese does not brown well, switch baking tray to middle level at the end of baking process.
Questions and Reviews
Hi, Maggie! Came across your blog a few days ago and like it very much. Many thanks for some valuable tips on Chinese dishes i love.
I’m Russian, by the way, so couldn’t miss reading this recipe. You were almost right. The ingredient that gives the baked sauce the disired taste and consistency is really cream, but not quite the kind you used. It is a staple in many east European cuisines – sour cream. Available in Russian food shops and will be labelled as “smetana”. Also, you can easily make it yourself. Just take heavy/whipping cream (no additives and preferably not sterilized) and add a spoonful of plain live yoghurt (1-2 tbs per pint will do). Fermenting at room T takes ~ 9-20 hrs, depending on many factors. After that, keep in the frige.
Farmer’s cream or sour cream can be up to 60% fat. The less fat is yours (esp. less than 30-33%), the more chance it will curdle when heated. To prevent that with less fatty sour cream, mix it with a little plain flour until smooth
That’s so interesting to know! I have no idea it has sour cream in it. I live in the US now and it’s easily available. I can’t wait to try it out.
I grew up eating quite a lot of Russian food (some of them have some French influence) so it’s truly comfort food for me 🙂