Gefilte fish is a prized delicacy for Jewish people who come from Eastern Europe, where using every part of the fish was necessary for life when one had very little to eat. The term gelfilte (guh-FILL-teh) is Yiddish for “stuffed fish.” It bears a resemblance to fish pâté that is eaten cold. Jewish people love eating this on Shabbat dinners and festival meals.
Since gefilte fish is an acquired taste, we recommend that you buy a jar of gefilte fish in the Jewish section of the supermarket to try it first. It is traditionally served with horseradish. However, for those of you who are more adventurous, you may try to make your own. This recipe comes from a friend’s mom who, legend has it, made gefilte fish that was out of this world!
For the gefilte fish balls:
3 pounds whitefish*
3 pounds carp*
3 medium onions
2 medium carrots
1 celery stalk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¾ cup corn oil
½ cup matzah meal
½ cup cold water
1 jar of red or white prepared horseradish
*Go to your local fish market and ask for these fish to be skinned and filleted. Ask the fish dealer to give you the heads and bones as well for the stock. Note that you may need to order ahead for whole fish.
- In a food processor grind the fish until very smooth. (You may also put the fish in an electric mixer and macerate with a dough hook. However, the onions and carrots will still need to be ground in a food processor before adding to the fish mixture.)
- Then add 2 onions and 1 carrot and grind until smooth. (You may have to make this in two batches if your food processor cannot hold all the ingredients.)
- Take the fish mixture and in a large bowl add the water a little at a time until all the water is incorporated into the mixture.
- Then add the eggs, sugar, salt, pepper, and mix very well with a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the matzah meal, and mix until everything is incorporated.
- Refrigerate overnight in a covered container.
- The next day, place the fish bones and heads in a stock pot with 1 onion, 1 carrot, and celery stalk, all diced. Fill the stock pot halfway with water and bring to a boil and then lower to simmer for 1½ hours.
- Next remove the fish mixture from the refrigerator to make fish patties. (To make patties take some of the fish mixture and place in a big metal spoon and then slowly drop the fish ball in the simmering fish stock.
- Cook the fish patties for 1½ hours.
- Remove fish patties, onions, and carrots from the stock pot and place on a paper towel to dry and cool.
- Place the fish patties with the onions and carrot in a closed container and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Place 2 pieces of gefilte fish with some onions and carrots pieces on a plate and eat with red or white horseradish.
Yield: 12 patties (4-ounce portions)