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Polish Jellied Fish Recipe – Ryba w Galarecie Perfect For Christmas!

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Ryba w galarecie in a white bowl.

 The Polish jellied fish recipe is a traditional dish that’s always a part of the Christmas dinner. Slow-cooked and deliciously cold, this Polish fish aspic will leave you wanting more!

A Fishy Christmas Dinner! (Pun Intended)

The Wigilia feast in Poland is full of unusual and old traditions that seem strange. Like not eating meat for Christmas, but eating fish and veggies instead.

Or having a minimum of 12 courses for dinner. And always having red borscht and uszka (little ears) as part of the Christmas meal. 

As important is the tradition of having ryba w galarecie or jellied carp fish as one of the Christmas dinner courses. But the best part of this recipe is that it will work with any fish.

However, carp is so popular in Poland, almost everyone uses carp to make ryba w galarecie. No wonder it’s sometimes called karp w galarecie!

Ryba w galarecie in a white dish.
Ryba w galarecie at the Christmas dinner table

Why Is Carp Popular In Poland?

It all has to do with Communism, history, and politics. And of course the kings of Poland!

Carp as a species of fish comes in different varieties, but the most popular are bred in Zator and called karp krowlewski or the royal carp.

Carp were favored by Polish kings since the 12th century and the carp farms in Zator near Krakow were famous because they supplied food to the kings’ tables. They were also popular among the nobles and common folk.

Did you know that there was a time there were eel, pike and perch were as popular as carp?

The carp farms almost disappeared in the 17th century, but carp farming was resurrected during the Communist regime.

But the individuals in positions of power tried to find cheaper ways of breeding carp in Poland. This led to mass-production, which in turn led to carp becoming cheaper and more readily available.

And finally, carp replaced many of the other fish on the Polish dinner table.

Polish fish aspic in a white bowl.
Polish fish aspic has been popular for centuries

There are a few Polish traditions surrounding carp that might seem gross. You need to keep the carp swimming in your bathtub till you’re ready to cook it. Most Poles don’t do this anymore, opting for ready-to-eat carp fillets instead.

Another famous carp tradition is to keep some of the scales from the carp fish you eat at Christmas in your wallet so that you’re blessed with lots of money throughout the year.

Anyways, for Christmas carp can either be fried and cooked as a fillet or it can be turned into jellied fish.

How To Make Jellied Fish?

Boil the veggies with allspice berries and bay leaves till they’re are soft. While the veggies are boiling, dice an onion fry it in oil. Mash the fish along with the fried onion, egg, salt, and pepper and form small balls.

Ingredients for the Polish jellied fish recipe displayed.
Ingredients for the Ryba Po Grecu
Veggies boiling in a steel pot.
Boil veggies

Once the veggies have boiled remove them from the stock and add the fish balls to the pot to cook for 5 minutes.

Small balls of fish and egg on a white plate.
Fish balls ready to be cooked
Fish balls cooking in the stock.
Cook the fish balls for a few minutes

Then strain the stock, and discard the onions, bay leaves, and allspice berries. Season the stock with salt and pepper.

Mix gelatin with a little cold water and add it to the hot stock. Stir until it’s fully dissolved.

Left over stock in a steel pot.
Drain the stock and season it!

Dice the veggies and add them along with the fish balls to platters or soup bowls. You can cut the boiled vegetables a lot faster using this tool in the picture below. Finally, cover the veggies and fish balls with the gelatin-stock mixture and allow it to set for a few hours. Serve cold with lemon juice!

Tool to cut carrots easily.
Cut carrots and other veggies faster with this tool
Chopped veggies and fish balls in a white platter.
Add the chopped veggies and carrots to a platter and cover with gelatine-stock mixture

Tips To Make The Tastiest Polish Jellied Fish For Christmas!

Ryba w galarecie in a black bowl.
Ryba w galarecie: Polish jellied fish
Traditional fish jelly in a white bowl.
Serve the traditional fish jelly topped with lemon juice

FAQs About Making The Perfect Ryba w Galarecie For Christmas

What If I Can’t Find Carp? 

If you can’t find carp, you can use any other fish fillets to make this recipe. It’ll taste just as good if you use pike, cod, perch, salmon, halibut, or almost every other fish.

How Long Does The Ryba W Galarecie Need To Set?

Allow the fish jelly to set for at least 2 to 3 hours. You can also make it a day or two earlier.  

Do I Have To Make The Fish Balls?

No, you don’t have to make the fish balls. If you prefer, you can simply cut the fish into pieces and use those. If you want to make a Jewish-Polish traditional jelly, you can use the whole fish. Simply clean the entire fish and stuff it with veggies and other filling and use it. 

What Other Polish Dishes Can I Make With Fish?

Some Polish dishes that are made with fish include:

Is It Possible To Make This Ryba W Galarecie Recipe Vegetarian or Vegan?

To make fish jelly vegetarian or vegan, simply do not add the fish to it. You can use any of your favorite vegetables instead – mushrooms, carrots, peas, celery, potatoes, etc. It’s also important to replace the gelatin with agar agar, a natural vegan gelling agent.  

How Do I Store Leftover Polish Jellied Fish?

Store leftover ryba w galarecie in the refrigerator with a lid on top. Do not freeze. Make sure you finish it in 4 to 5 days. 

Polish Jellied Fish Recipe – Ryba w Galarecie Perfect For Christmas!

Yield: 8

Polish Jellied Fish Recipe - Ryba w Galarecie Perfect For Christmas!

Polish fish aspic in a white bowl.

Polish jellied fish recipe is a traditional dish that's always a part of the Christmas dinner. Slow-cooked and deliciously cold, this Polish fish aspic will leave you wanting more!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Refrigeration Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes


  • 14oz (400g) of fish fillet
  • 3 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small parsley root/parsnip
  • small part of a celery root
  • 1 egg
  •  2 tbsps of oil
  • 3 tsps of gelatin powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper


  1. Peel 2 onions and all the other veggies.
  2. Cover the veggies with 4 cups of water, and add allspice berries and bay leaves. Cook until veggies are soft.
  3. In the meantime, peel and dice 1 onion. Fry it on oil.
  4. If the fish is wet, drain it. Blend the fish with fried onion, egg, 1 tsp of salt, and ½ tsp of black pepper.
  5. Form the small walnut-sized balls from the fish mixture.
  6. When the veggies in the stock are soft, remove them from the pot.
  7. Gently throw the fish balls into the boiling hot stock and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Strain the stock, making sure it's clear. Season it with 1 tbsp of salt and ½ tsp of black pepper.
  9. Mix gelatin with 1-2 tbsps of cold water. Check how much stock you have left. For me, it was 2 cups of stock. I needed 3 tsps of gelatin powder to make a jelly. If you have more stock, add as much gelatin powder as instructed on the package.
  10. Pour the jelly onto the hot stock and mix until it's completely dissolved.
  11. Throw away the onions, allspice berries, and bay leaves. Dice the remaining cooked veggies. You may do it fast using this tool.
  12. Place the fish balls and diced veggies onto the plates.
  13. Cover them with the cold gelatin stock and place inside the fridge.
  14. Wait until the jelly sets. Serve cold with vinegar or lemon juice.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 109Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 636mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g

These data are indicative and calculated by Nutritionix

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