Let’s say this right off the bat: I love gefilte fish. Smothered in spicy horseradish, this appetizer that has been made by generations of grandmothers in my family makes me feel connected to my past. I have hosted Passover in my home for over a decade and always relied on my aunt to prepare this dish. First, I was afraid (I was petrified) of making this sacred app. Second, my aunt makes really really delicious gefilte.
Ironically, this year (when I’m not hosting Pesach in my home) I decided to give it a whirl. What’s the worst that could happen?
Well, there were many obstacles to overcome. I didn’t plan ahead, so getting carp or whitefish or pike was out of the question. Well, since I’ve never made this anyway, why go the traditional route?!? I got cod. I’m fairly certain red snapper, haddock, or any of those nice white fishies would work just as well. The cod was inexpensive, which is why I chose it.
I looked at a few gefilte recipes to get a sense of proportion, then forged ahead with what I hoped would be a new take on this age-old dish.
I couldn’t have dreamed of a lighter, fluffier and more flavorful fish. I don’t even know if it’s proper to call this gefilte! It’s tinged green from all the herbs I put in and holds up flavor-wise without the addition of horseradish. I must say, horseradish is the single greatest condiment ever created, so it’s a welcome addition to my gefilte fish.
Also, this was easy to make. I’m not sure why I had a grueling process stuck in my head (probably why I never wanted to attempt this before). If you own a food processor, you can make this in a jiffy.
Note: since I was making chicken soup for the holiday anyway, I used that stock for simmering my fish. If you want to make a fish stock, I have included the recipe down below. I just got lazy…
Not Your Bubbe’s Gefilte Fish
10-12 cups fish stock (you can also just use water)
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup dill
1/4 cup parsley
1 tablespoon scallions
1 chili pepper (optional)
2 lbs cod
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons matza meal
Fill a large wide pot with stock (about 2-3″ high). Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium low. Let it continue to cook while you prepare the fish.
Place the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, dill, parsley, scallions and chili pepper (if using) into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add the fish, salt and pepper and pulse until the fish is well ground but not liquefied or pasty.
Transfer the fish mixture into a large bowl. Add the egg, oil and matza meal into the bowl and mix until combined.
Wet your hands with water before making each gefilte patty. Round the mixture with your hand and form into an oval shape. Form all the patties and place them on a platter. Add the patties to the simmering stock and cook for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
Using a slotted spoon, gently lift them out of the pot and let them cool on a plate. If you are serving immediately, plate them with a slice of carrot and a sprig of dill and/or parsley on top.
If you are making the fish ahead of time, place them in a baking dish, cover them with the poaching liquid and refrigerate over night. To freeze, place patties on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Freeze them in a single layer (for an hour or two) then place them all in a freezer bag. Freeze the poaching liquid separately. To reheat, bring poaching liquid to a boil then simmer the patties for a minute on each side.
Place heads, bones and skin of 2 fish in a large, wide pot. Add 4 quarts of water, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 sliced onion and 3 carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (prepare the fish mixture in the meantime).