Czech name: Rybí zavináče

Written by Daniel Kunasek

Along with pickled sausages and pickled Camembert, these pickled fish rolls form the trio of the most popular cold pub cuisine. An ideal appetizer, not only for the Czech pub! Small slices of fish work best – fillets of herring, trout, tench, zander, or whitefish are all good choices. Use absolutely fresh fish, and don’t worry about the small bones; they break down in the vinegar phase.


6 – 8 small fresh herring fillets without scales
1 sliced red onion
6 – 8 pickled cucumbers

5 Tbs sea salt
2 cups cold water

Spiced brine
2 cups of vinegar
1 Tbs light brown cane sugar
6 black peppercorns
6 all spice berries
1 nutmeg
3 bay leaves
1 dried chili pepper


Mix infusion ingredients. Put the fillets into a big jar and pour the infusion on it so everything is submerged. The exact amount of infusion depends on the amount and size of the fish and jar. To calculate, use a measuring cup filling the jar halfway with water counting the cups. Adjust the salt accordingly based on the 5 Tbs per 2 cups ratio. Let it sit for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and dry the fillets with a paper towel.

Put the vinegar and all the spices for the vinegar spiced brine in a stainless steel pot and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for about 1 to 2 minutes, then let it cool down. Place the fillets on a clean cutting board, skin-side down, place the onion and cucumber on the tail end, roll it up, and fasten it with a toothpick. Repeat for all fillets.

Lay the fish rolls in a canning jar and cover with the spiced brine so that the fish is completely submerged. If necessary, add some plain vinegar. Close and leave to cool for 3 to 4 days. To avoid the fish spoiling, they must stay fully submerged in the vinegar! They will last at least for 14 days in the fridge!

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