Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gefilte fish, two ways

I never was really interested in gefilte fish. I didn't really eat fish until recently (didn't like any fish as a kid, then was misdiagnosed as allergic a few years ago) so slimy balls of grey fish balls in cold jelly, usually out of a jar, sure didn't appeal to me. Ick. However, with my budding interest in fish, and a love of anything resembling a meatball, I thought maybe if I made them, gefilte fish would be good. I was right. I used salmon, which apparently is increasingly common, because that is the fish I like the best. I used a recipe (kind of) out of my absolute favorite Jewish cookbook, Love and Knishes by Sara Kasdan. It reads like it's written by your Jewish grandmother.  Also, when I was doing research on recipes and methods for homemade gefilte fish, I came across this article. Frying gefilte fish! What a great idea! 

This was an interesting experiment. I mixed up the fish mush, brought a pot of seafood broth to a simmer, and dropped in about a dozen football shaped quenelles. I covered the pot and let them simmer about an hour, gently, so they didn't fall apart. I shaped the rest of the fish mixture into patties about the size of flattened golf balls, and pan fried them. I didn't use the 1/4" of oil in my pan like the article suggested, but instead just used a tablespoon or two, and they fried up nicely. When it was time to eat them, the difference between the two was huge. The boiled traditional ones, served cold, were fairly bland and boring. The pan fried ones? Delicious. We served them warm, with horseradish, and they were so good. They had a lot more flavor than the boiled ones. I will absolutely be pan-frying my gefilte fish in the future. 

Think I'm nuts for making my own gefilte fish? Since I used salmon fillets and skipped the fish broth-aspic, making them was a snap. I used ground up rice crackers for the matzo meal, but you can use potato starch instead, just add it by the tablespoon to make sure that you don't use too much. 

Gefilte fish, two ways
Recipe from (kind of) Love and Knishes. I halved the recipe, changed the fish, added herbs, and removed the sugar. You guys who like your sweet gefilte fish are totally in a place I don't understand. 

1 1/4 lb salmon fillets (or whatever fish you like best)
1/2 of a large onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 t salt
1 T minced parsley
1 t dill
2 eggs
2-4 T ground up rice crackers, bread crumbs, or potato starch

Cut your fish up into inch sized pieces and stick them in the food processor with the onion, carrot, salt, pepper, parsley and dill. Pulse a few times, until there aren't any more big chunks of fish. Turn out into a bowl, add the eggs, and mix (your hands work best). Sprinkle 2 T of crumbs over and mix in, and keep adding a bit more until you feel the mixture is right. 

To cook:
For traditional gefilte fish, bring a pot of fish stock (made with the bones from your fish, carrots, onion and celery) to a simmer in a wide pot, add 1 sliced carrot, 1 stalk celery, and a bit of chopped onion. Form the fish mixture into footballs using two spoons, and slide them very carefully into the broth. Bring the stock back to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook about an hour. Remove the gefilte fish from the broth and place in a bowl. Refridgerate them, along with the stock (in another bowl), and serve cold, with the jelled stock and vegetables. 

For pan fried gefilte fish, form the fish mixture into small patties (about the size of a flattened golf ball). Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the fish patties. Cook until well browned on one side, then flip and cook the other side. If the heat isn't too high, the patties should be cooked through. If they aren't, stick them in the oven (350 degrees) for 5-10 minutes until they're done. Serve hot with horseradish and/or capers. 


  1. Anonymous9:47 PM

    Interesting... looks like crab cakes!

  2. I need to get that book. I was so excited to find schmaltz in the stores for Passover cooking, so this book will be a good one for me. I've always loved gefilte fish - it's definitely an acquired taste. But homemade tastes so much better then the cold, slimy pressed parts out of the jar!

  3. yum! I love the jelly though! I know, im weird.

  4. Thanks for awesome idea! Here's my version of it. I based it off of yours, but I did add a touch of sugar. :)