Grilled vendace with fire-roasted potatoes, herb butter and green salad

Source: Johannes Hõimoja

Grilled vendace with fire-roasted potatoes, herb butter and green salad

Recipe author:

Janno Lepik

Head chef

Leib Resto ja Aed

They say that Estonians are the most stationary nation in Europe – thousands of years ago, our forefathers gathered on this land and decided to stay. We carry with us traditions and wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation. The roots of our story go way back. now we look back and appreciate our old recipes and ancient customs. We want to prepare traditional dishes in a way that all Estonians know and love while also adding a contemporary touch.

Vendace is a tasty and highly nutritious river fish, which was dried and salted during the olden days to be eaten daily with some black bread. The fish was boiled or stewed with potatoes; fish soup was also a common dish. Estonians took to using pans in the last quarter of the 19th century and started frying fish as well; smoked fish gained popularity at the start of the 20th century. Grilled foods become well-known during Soviet times and have become widely popular in the past few decades.

  • Course: main
  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 1,5 h
  • Difficulty: easy


400 g cleaned vendace
4 large potatoes
6 tbsp sour cream
100 g butter
2 heads green salad leaves
1 bunch green onion
Green herbs: 10 g parsley, 10 g chive, 10 g dill and 10 g basil

Chopped parsley with lemon and garlic
Zest of one lemon
Half a clove of garlic
30 g parsley leaves


  1. Wash the potatoes and bake in the oven at 250 ºC for 45-60 minutes. If possible, cook on coals in a wood oven, on a grill or in an open fire. The potatoes are ready when the skin has turned ashy and the inside is soft.
  2. Let the butter soften at room temperature. Pick the leaves off the herb stalks and chop finely. Mix butter and the chopped herbs together, season with lemon juice and salt. Wrap the butter in plastic wrap and mould the butter into sausage-shaped rolls. Let the rolls solidify in the fridge.
  3. Wash the lemon and grate the zest with a fine grater. Pick and wash the parsley leaves and chop them.
  4. Wash the salad leaves and dry them with a tea towel or paper towel. Chop the green onion.
  5. Clean the cooled, fresh vendace. Wash off the scales and remove the intestines. Leave the head and the spine.
  6. Grill the vendace for 1 minute on both sides, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Take the potatoes out of the oven. Cut 5 mm slits into the potatoes. Add 1 cm thick slices of herb butter into the slits.
  8. Mix together the salad leaves, chopped green onion and sour cream, season with salt and pepper.
  9. Place the fish on a plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley, lemon and garlic.

Photos by: Johannes Hõimoja

Last updated : 05.04.2023