A collection of Hungarian recipes and home cooking


Fried Bream – Sült keszeg

Fried breem fish - sult keszeg

Walking around the “Hungarian sea” aka lake Balaton, you can easily find a stall selling fried fish at every lido somewhere next to the langos fried bread, corn on the cob, ice cream, beer  and souvenir shops.
Next to the popular fried hake there will be fried bream on offer too.  Bream has got a good amount of fine bones, to deal  with these prepare the fish by vertically scoring the sides with a sharp knife  tightly cutting through the fine fish bones. Frying will make this little bones, brittle almost disolved and the remaining small pieces will be manageable.  The recipe itself is not complicated, the main element is the coating  which is flour mixed with the paprika powder plus a little  salt on the fish beforehand.  Fried bream is best eaten just out of the fryer with a tower of white bread and fermented/pickled cucumbers. Whether to leave the head on is entirely up to you, I like the look of the whole fish on my plate.
There are a couple of types of this fish around. The ones I could buy were labelled as “sea bream” and look a bit wider in appearance from the freshwater breams. In taste I couldn’t detect a big difference. I have a picture of fried freshwater breams I had in Hungary a few months ago.


  • 1-2 fish / person
  • salt
  • white flour and paprika powder – 2:1 proportion – 2 parts of flour with 1 part of paprika powder
  • sunflower oil (or any neutral tasting oil) for frying
  • couple of cloves of minced garlic mixed with oil – to lightly marinate the fish with before frying (optional)
  • Fresh crusty bread, fermented cucumbers or other pickles to serve with


  1. Score the sides of the clean and prepared fish tightly as can  (a bit better than I did !) holding the knife in a slight angle to make sure the tiny bones are cut through.
  2. Generously sprinkle salt inside and out
  3. You could also rub the fishes with a simple garlic marinade prepared with minced garlic cloves and oil
  4. Set the fish aside for about 20 minutes
  5. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan, suitable for frying, you need enough oil to be able to cover the fish slightly and can move them around.
  6. Fry on a relatively high heat till golden and the fish is cooked through
  7. Get the bread and the fermented cucumbers ready, enjoy with a light fragrant glass of white wine!


Sea Bream version I made in the UK

Sea bream fried in paprika flour.


A fish frying stall at lake Balaton, Hungary. Image source: www.ilovebalaton.hu


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