Real German Cuisine: Hechtkloesschen in Rieslingssauce (Fish dumplings in Riesling sauce)

by Christina Geyer on September 14, 2009 · 11 comments

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This week’s challenge was to make Hechtklößchen in Rieslingssauce (Pike dumplings in Riesling sauce).  Pike is hard to get, at least in our area and in my in-laws area of Germany.  We spent the last five days at my in-laws, it was a lovely break to get away from television and internet, but I always come back feeling like I have no idea what’s been going on in the world.  Anyways, I made this dish while there and had to substitute Zander, or pike-perch.  We also used Fischfond (store-bought fish stock), instead of making our own because the only extra bits the fish counter woman had to offer was a salmon head and I wasn’t really sure what that might do to the recipe, and it was just easier to buy stock anyways.

The dumplings didn’t turn out so great.  I was at a disadvantage, as my mother-in-law’s kitchen is very low tech.  We managed to find an old stick blender that Rainer gave his mom as a present when he was a kid, which we used to puree the fish, but actually it just kind of mushed it up a little.  We didn’t really manage to push the resulting “puree” through a sieve, as instructed, so we just used the lumpy fish mixture to make the dumplings.  They didn’t hold together great in the simmering water, plus the pot was kind of too small and there were too many dumplings in at one time.  They didn’t completely fall apart, but they were a bit mushy and fluffy.

We also had a little mishap with the sauce.  You’re supposed to take it off the heat and add the egg yolk.  I did that, but apparently hadn’t waited long enough, because instead of thickening the sauce, I ended up with little strands of cooked egg yolk in it instead.  I stuck it back on the heat and stirred in a mix of cornstarch and water to thicken it up a bit.  In the future, I’ll take it off the heat and wait a few minutes to add the yolk.

We served the dumplings and sauce over Bandnudeln (wide egg noodles), and it was delicious, especially the sauce.  I actually had no problem with the consistency of the dumplings, but Rainer didn’t like them (Oliver was all over them and ate half of the dumplings off of my plate, so they are toddler approved).  We both thought just cooking the fish filet and serving it with the noodles and the sauce would be a much easier and quicker alternative to the dumplings, but I’d like to try this recipe again sometime in my own kitchen to see how it goes with a food processor available.  I bet the sauce would be really good with pasta and shrimp as well.

Fischklößchen in Rieslingsauce

These dishes just fit (and look) so much better on Oma’s plates than on our Ikea plates!

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  • Anne


    I’ve been following the recipes you’re choosing and was a bit astonished about your choices until I checked up on the book you’ve taken as guidance. 😉 I’d consider few of these dishes specifically “typical” German cooking and as someone from Southern Germany myself, I find myself shuddering a bit about some choices. That’s said humorously, as I’ve lived in Northern Germany as well, and there their stomachs turn at what us Southerners eat.

    On the whole however, I have the impression that this is a formula cookbook picking out the usual famous dish, but not really going indepth and especially not showing what the normal German housewife would cook on a nitty-gritty, day to day basis.

    I think you’d fare better on the whole with choosing regional and older cookbooks, and above all, with asking your local German friends for their recipes.

    If asked for my local dishes, I’d e.g. say Maultaschen mit angeschmelzten Zwiebeln, Maultaschen in Suppe, saure Kutteln mit brauner Sosse und Salzkartoffeln, Pellkartoffeln mit Quark, heisse Kartoffelsuppe mit kaltem Pflaumenkuchen (an absolutely delicious dish commonly served in late summer/early fall), Hirschragout mit Spätzle, Wildhase in Sahnesosse mit Spätzle, Preiselbeeren und Ackersalat, Bratwurst mit Kartoffelsalat, gedeckter Apfelkuchen, Schäufele mit Sauerkraut, Schlachtplatte mit Sauerkraut, Hefeklöße mit Vanillesoße, Schweinebraten mit Rotkraut und Kartoffelpürree, Kesselfleisch mit Meerrettichsoße, to name but a few.

    Hechtklößchen in Rieslingsauce is not only a dish for a posh Sunday lunch, it’s a dish few housewives like to make, because – if you use real Hecht for that – it is extremely difficult and boring to get out all the fish bones or mince the meat good enough so that people are not spitting out little pieces of bone all the time. That’s the reason why it’s usually a dish most people eat in restaurants instead. It’s often part of a special menu for family feast occasions like marriage or baptism. While it undeniably is a German dish, it also is a dish not exactly typical. I am German, I lived the first 20 years of my life (and quite a couple later again) in one of the regions that this dish is most associated with and I ate it exactly once: during the Abitur family feast of my nephew, in a restaurant.

    There’s a similar, but different angle on the Flammkuchen. That actually is an Alemannic dish which is taken to the greatest culinary heights by the Alsatians, an Alemannic ethnic group which is part of France. Even the German Alemannic people know well that the Tarte Flambee is cooked much better by Alsatian cooks and according to their recipes and you get droves of pretty local Southern German tourists every Sunday who hop over the frontier just to eat “Flammekuche” in an Alsatian restaurant. If not that, then they eat the Choucroute there, which is a much more elaborate and above all huger-sized version of the Southern German Schlachtplatte mit Sauerkraut.

    I’ll try to unearth my family’s recipe for Kartoffelsuppe mit Pflaumenkuchen and will post it here, if you want me to.

    And a tip regarding the rabbit dishes, rabbit often was the wartime and after-war replacement of brown hare. Rabbit is the “Arme Leute”-replacement for hare. For most of the dishes you can replace rabbit with hare without problem and it actually tastes much better too. You do have to accommodate for the longer cooking times of brown hare though.

    There’s a semantic little riddle attached to this, which shows this background. In German language one of the kitchen names for rabbit is “Stallhase”, a euphemism which tries to turn the rabbit into the better and more delectable animal, at least by words. 😉

  • Kelly

    You are so adventurous! I agree, I’d probably not bother with the dumplings either…but I’m more likely to make meatloaf than meatballs, too. :-)

    A note on using egg in sauces–tempering the egg first is very helpful in reducing the chances of curdling. Beat the egg first, then add a bit of the hot liquid to the egg to warm it up. Then add a bit more hot liquid to warm it up some more. Then add the warmed mixture slowly to the pot, stirring constantly. This is a great way to incorporate an egg into a plain pudding recipe, too, which can make a plain starch-based pudding taste quite lovely.

    Hey, what sort of food processor do you have? I’ve been wanting one, but I am completely unfamiliar with the German brands. Any thoughts/recommendations?
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Cherries! =-.

  • christina

    That looks tasty! And yep, I bet the food processor would make short work of the fish and give it a more uniform consistency so it would hold together better. But I bet the flavour was great. These recipes are really interesting for me since I’ve heard of most of them, but they aren’t really part of northern German cuisine so we don’t see them or make them that much up here.
    Keep on cooking!
    .-= christina´s last blog say tomato =-.

  • Christina Geyer

    @anne: Thanks for the information. I moved your family’s recipe to the Grumbeersupp recipe post. That way if someone wants to make that, they can read your recipe as an alternative. As to the book, I have commented before that many of the recipes are not everyday meals, like Kalbshaxe or Harzer Lamm in Buttermilch, but I think there are everyday meals scattered throughout. I’m not sure an older, regional cookbook would give a better overview of cuisine in Germany, as I would need to use several cookbooks to do the same. I think any cookbook chosen is going to have pluses and minuses. I selected this book because it’s been on my bookshelf since my MIL gave it to me as a Christmas present my first year living in Germany. I think we’ll stick with it to the end, since we’re almost 1/4 of the way through, but if you have tips or alternatives to the recipes, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Having more information is almost always a good thing :)

    @christina: The flavor was awesome. I do need to do more northern German recipes. I think I’m more familiar with the southern German cuisine, so I picked those recipes first. I’m trying to even things up this fall though.

  • Christina Geyer

    Just added a link to the recipe for the Sept 28 challenge, Rehrücken mit Pfifferlingen (saddle of venison with chanterelle mushrooms).

    @kelly: Thanks for the tip on the eggs. I’ll do that in the future. Can’t help you with the food processor. I’ve got a Cuisinart I brought with me from the US that I use with a transformer. They aren’t sold over here as far as I’ve seen. I’d just look on Amazon and see which ones have good ratings.

  • Christina Geyer

    Updated the post with links to the translated recipes through October 19.

  • Ed Ward

    As far as food processors go, I splurged on a high-end Braun “mit System” about 10 years ago and it’s still rocking my world. Three different bowls: the regular food-processor one, a bread-making one, and a blender-like one. And Braun is astonishing when it comes to replacement parts: they come virtually overnight!
    .-= Ed Ward´s last blog ..Association =-.

  • christina

    I have a Braun as well, just a simple one, now over 13 yrs old and falling apart a bit, as plastic tends to do over time, but the motor still runs wonderfully and I use it quite often. I’ll definitely get another one when this one dies.
    .-= christina´s last blog say tomato =-.

  • Stephanie

    Do you have any recommendations of how much juice to juice for next week’s recipe? I went ahead and bought some cranberry juice today (unsugared) to try this recipe – but am trying to figure out how much to use….
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Red Sculpture near Falls Park =-.

  • Christina Geyer

    I’ve heard good things about Braun processors as well. If mine ever falls apart, I’d get one of those probably, but that might be decades away!

    @stephanie: I think I’d just replace the water that the berries are supposed to be boiled in with the juice. So I’d use 800 ml of the cranberry juice instead of 800 ml of water.

  • Oleg


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