Northern Pike in Yellow Saffron Sauce

During the Baroque period, you could often find northern pike on the tables of nobles when it was time to fast. This fish was also popular at monasteries in Vilnius. Served on a plate with chunks of pike covered in sauce, northern pike in yellow sauce (also called northern pike Lithuanian style) was one of the most luxurious dishes of the time.

The sauce called for saffron – the most expensive spice around – to colour everything yellow. Expensive spices on the table used to bear testimony the splendour of the home and the wealth of the hosts. So saffron was popular in Lithuania. Today, northern pike in yellow sauce is usually eaten with boiled Italian vegetables.

You will need:

For the pike:

  • 1 northern pike (about 1.5-2 kg)
  • 1 kg mixed vegetables (carrots, parsley root, celery root, leek), coarsely chopped
  • 700 ml white table wine
  • 350 ml natural beer or wine vinegar
  • 200 g raw sugar, moistened with water
  • 200 g large raisins, soaked in hot water
  • 300 ml fish bone broth
  • 1 lemon

For the sauce:

  • 350 ml olive oil
  • 100 g fine wheat flour
  • 2-3 g saffron
  • 70 g pitted green olives (optional)
  • 50 g almonds, blanched and slivered (optional)


  1. Clean, descale and wash the pike, then pat dry with a paper towel and cut into slices (crosswise). Put the vegetables in a shallow, wide pot and arrange the pike on top. Add the wine, vinegar or beer, sugar, raisins and fish bone broth, and top with slices of lemon. Boil everything.
  2. To make the yellow sauce, heat the olive oil in an enamel pot, add the flour, and mix well. Then add the liquid from the soaked saffron (it should be enough so that the sauce is an intense yellow colour; pour the liquid through a sieve to prevent pieces of saffron from getting in the sauce). Strain the liquid used to boil the pike through a sieve and add it to the sauce as well. Heat everything well until the sauce starts to thicken. While it is cooking, you can add the olives and almonds. The innards of the pike – the edible parts, such as the liver – can also be added to the sauce after boiling them well and grinding them up. The sauce should have a sweet-and-sour taste.

Note: Northern pike in yellow sauce was once considered a luxury dish. It was traditionally served on a plate with chunks of pike covered in sauce and garnished with slices of fish sausage. Nowadays, it’s more common to serve the pike with boiled Italian vegetables (carrots, parsley root, celery root, leek).

This information was shared by Rimvydas Laužikas.

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