Also Known As: Karpfen, Weihnachtskarpfen
In Germany, Carp is a tradtional meal eaten on Christmas Eve. This tradition began with a custom of the Catholic Church. The period of Advent was considered a time of fasting. The last day of Advent is Christmas Eve. The end of Advent and Christmas Eve was a time of celebration, so a special meal was prepared. But since Christmas Eve was still part of the fasting period, the strict food guidelines had to still be followed. Fish was an acceptable meal, so a hearty, festive meal was made from carp.
Region: Throughout Germany
Photo: © JackF - Fotolia.com
In Southern Germany, the carp is most often cut it into individual portions and prepared like a Schnitzel. The dish is most often served with potatoes, such as potato salad, fried potatoes, or boiled potatoes.
In Northern Germany, the carp is often marinated in a vinegar-wine sauce for 10-15 minutes. The marinade is made from warm vinegar, water, white wine, onions, bay leaf, and peppercorns. The acid in the vinegar causes the fish to lose its sliminess, but it also turns the fish a blue-ish color, which is why this process is called "Carp Blue" (Karpfen Blau). The fish is then either cooked in the marinade or its baked in the oven over a dish of steaming vinegar. Traditional side dishes include boiled potatoes and horseradish.
Another popular dish is stuffed carp. Here the carp is stuffed with various vegetables and/or potatoes and baked in the oven.
An old superstition is to take one of the scales from the Christmas carp and carry it around in a wallet. This is supposed to bring money in the new year.
Another superstition, found mainly in eastern parts of Germany, is to take the left-over bones from the Christmas carp and bury then beside a fruit tree. This is supposed to bring a good harvest of fruit in the Spring.