Sichenyk

One of the most ancient Ukrainian recipes is sichenyk, a breaded and fried meatball made traditionally from river fish. This recipe is said to have originated around the lower Dnipro river region where people could make use of the bountiful and powerful river for their cuisine.

sichenyk fish kotlety with mashed potatoes in a porcelain bowl

While sichenyk can technically be used to refer to ground meat cutlets made from beef, pork, chicken, or lamb, it is most commonly used for fish. The former meats are often just called Kotlety as a more all encompassing name.

These days people don’t limit themselves to river fish either. While carp is likely the most used, pretty much any whitefish will be good. I often use swai, or iridescent shark, because it is so cheap and easy to get. In fact, on Dzharylhach Island in Kherson they even make stingray sichenyk at the local restaurant.

How To Make Ukrainian Sichenyk

sichenyk ingredients with a meat grinder on a table

The ingredients needed to make a proper sichenyk are quite easy to come by. However the one difficulty people may have is the main tool, a meat grinder. These days many people don’t grind their own meat so not every kitchen has one of these. Luckily you can use a food processor and just carefully pulse to grind the fish.

Ingredients

500 grams Whitefish – deboned and deskinned. Frozen swai fillets work great here as a way to save money and remove a lot of work.

2 medium Onions – or one very large onion

2 Eggs

3 tbsp Green Onion – chopped

8 slices White Bread

3 cloves Garlic

1 tbsp Dill, optional

1/2 tsp Salt

Black Pepper – freshly cracked, to taste

Breadcrumbs – for breading and frying

Sunflower Oil – for frying

grinding whitefish using the meat grinder attachment of a smeg stand mixer

To make sichenyk you first must run the fish, bread, onion, and garlic through the meat grinder on the smallest holes. If you do not have a meat grinder you can use a food processor and pulse until you get a near-paste consistency.

sichenyk ingredients in a bowl before mashing together

In the bowl with the ground ingredients add the eggs, green onion, salt, pepper, and dill if you are using it. Mash everything together with your fingers until you have a homogenous and sticky mass of meatball.

sichenyk fish meatball frying station

Make a frying station. Put some oil in a pan on medium high heat. In another bowl next to it add enough breadcrumbs to easily coat the sichenyk meatballs. And lastly of course your big bowl of mashed fish paste.

a half fried sichenyk in a pan of oil

Making the traditional sichenyk shape does take a bit of effort, but you should get the hang of it quick enough. The shape should be somewhat like a prolate spheroid with pointy ends. The easiest way to make this is by using two tablespoons and using the quenelle method.

Then drop the meatball into the breadcrumbs and coat, then move to the hot oil. If the oil is too hot you will end up burning the outside while the inside isn’t fully cooked, so lower the temperature if needed. I think 175C and 2 minutes per side is a pretty good place to start, but of course adjust for your pan/sichenyk as all kitchens are different.

frying sichenyky in hot oil

If you notice black specks on your fried meatballs (as you can see above) it means your oil is dirty. This is because too much breadcrumbs have come off during frying and burnt in the hot oil. You can fix this by not overbreading your sichenyk, or by changing the oil when this occurs.

sichenyk fish kotlety with mashed potatoes in a porcelain bowl

What is the best way to eat sichenyk? Well, that would be with mashed potatoes. If you want to get really decadent you can make extra buttery whipped potatoes. You can also serve them with bulgur or kasha which is popular with older Ukrainians.

sichenyk fried fish meatballs with mashed potatoes in a bowl. Garnished with chopped green onion

Sichenyk

One of the most ancient Ukrainian recipes is sichenyk, a breaded and fried meatball made traditionally from river fish. This recipe is said to have originated around the lower Dnipro river region where people could make use of the bountiful and powerful river for their cuisine.
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Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Keyword: Fish, Fried, Meatballs, Seafood
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 178kcal
Cost: $10

Equipment

  • 1 Meat Grinder | or a food processor
  • 1 Pan | for frying
  • 1 Bowl | for mixing

Ingredients

  • 500 grams Whitefish deboned and deskinned. Frozen swai fillets work great here as a way to save money and remove a lot of work.
  • 2 medium Onions or one very large onion
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 tbsp Green Onion chopped
  • 8 slices White Bread
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Dill optional
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Black Pepper freshly cracked, to taste
  • Breadcrumbs for breading and frying
  • Sunflower Oil for frying

Instructions

  • Run the fish, onions, bread, and garlic through the meatgrinder into a bowl.
  • Add the eggs, green onion, dill, salt, and pepper to the bowl and mash everything together with your hands until you have a sticky paste.
  • Set up a frying station with a pan of hot oil, a shallow bowl of breadcrumbs, and your bowl of fish mash.
  • Use two tablespoons to quenelle the fish mash into a prolate spheroid shape (traditionally) or any shape that is easiest for you. Drop the meatball into the breadcrumbs and lightly coat.
  • Place the breaded cutlet into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes at 175C oil temperature. Adjust heat as need to prevent burning.
  • Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate while you fry the rest of them. Serve with mashed potatoes or bulgur for a traditional Ukrainian meal.

Nutrition

Serving: 100grams | Calories: 178kcal
Did you make this?Mention @CookingToEntertain or tag #cookingtoentertain and let me know how it was!

Sichenyk (Ukrainian Fried Fish Meatballs)

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