106 BULGARIAN-STYLE RICE | Hooks, Lies & Alibis with Chef John Folse | LPB
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Monday, October 22, 2018
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Prep Time: 2½ Hours
Yields: 6–8 Servings

Patrina and Dimcho Dimov, cheese makers at our Bittersweet Plantation Dairy, arrived from Bulgarian in 2003. Not only was Patrina, or “Pepe” as we know her, a magnificent cheese maker, but also a fabulous cook. One of her favorite dishes is the Rice and Tomato Stuffed Carp. This is the fish done in most Bulgarian kitchens on the day of St. Nikolas, the great winter festival celebrated by all Bulgarians on December 6. St. Nikolas is the patron saint for sailors and fishermen, and the traditional fish served on his feast day is carp.

1 (8–10 pound) carp, cleaned, scaled and head-on
3 cups brown rice, cooked al dente
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
½ cup raisins
½ cup olive oil
2 cups diced onions
½ cup diced green bell peppers
½ cup diced red bell peppers
½ cup diced yellow bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
1 cup fish or shellfish stock
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tbsps chopped basil
2 tbsps thyme leaves
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped oregano
½ cup chopped parsley, divided

Soak raisins in water overnight. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. NOTE: Make sure to cook rice al dente since the partially cooked rice will then bake for 1½–2 hours in the sauce. In a 1-gallon, heavy-bottomed saucepot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers and minced garlic then sauté 5–7 minutes or until vegetables are wilted, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes with juice, stock and mushrooms, stirring to mix well, and season to taste using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Cook 10–15 minutes then fold in rice, blending well into vegetable mixture. Add raisins, walnuts or pecans, basil, thyme leaves, tarragon, oregano and ¼ cup of parsley, stirring to incorporate all ingredients. Remove and set aside. Rinse fish well inside and out under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season to taste with salt, pepper and granulated garlic then stuff cavity of fish with half of tomato mixture. Set aside. Grease a piece aluminum foil large enough to enclose entire fish then place on a large baking sheet. It may be necessary to fold 2 sheets of aluminum foil together if the carp is too large to be wrapped in a single sheet. Place remaining rice mixture on center of foil, spreading evenly to create a bed approximately the size and shape of the fish, then place fish on top. Fold foil tightly over fish to enclose fish and rice mixture. Bake 1½–2 hours or until fish flakes easily and stuffing is cooked through. Remove from oven, transfer to a large serving platter and carefully unwrap. To serve, using a sharp paring knife or spatula, remove an equal portion of the fish and stuffing on the center of each serving plate. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve immediately.

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