Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gefilte Fish for Passover

One of the best known of Jewish holidays beginning at sundown on April 8th is Passover. Our familiarity with Passover (or Pesach - pronounced pe-sach with a Scottish rolled ch) ties in with Christian history. The Passover in Christianity is depicted by The Last Supper.

One of the traditions of Pesach is the making of Gefilte fish which, admittedly is an acquired taste. I can remember the age long debate of whose gefilte fish is the best. The Jews from Poland made a sweeter tasting fish while the Jews from Russia made a more savory tasting fish. It's all what you grew up with. Everyone seems to guard their family recipe and claims that theirs is absolutely the best.

Gefilte fish is a ground fish recipe, popular with people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage(eastern European heritage). Formally, it is a type of quenelle, a delicately flavored patty made of lightly seasoned ground fish or white meat. Similar dishes exist in many cultures in local recipes bland or spicy, served plain or sauced, and cooked in simple broth or as part of an elaborate fish stew.

Here's babba's recipe that's been kept under lock and key. We think it's "the best".

Since these are still cooling, you'll have to wait for the next post to see the plated version.


5 lb. pickerel fillets (you could use a combination of carp, pickerel and white fish)
2 large onions (divided
4 large carrots (divided)
1 parsnip
4 eggs (rule of thumb is 1 egg per pound of fish if the fish is filleted skin off)
1/2 cup grated ground almonds (divided)
4 handfuls of matzoh meal (approximately 1 cup)
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups water


1. In a large stock pot slice 1 large onion and 2 carrots, salt,1/4 c sugar, 6 cups water.

2. Peel 2nd onion and cut roughly to fit meat grinder.

This meat grinder came to Canada with babba 50 years ago.

3. Remove skin from fillets (it's easier to ask the fish monger to do this)

4. Process carrot and parsnip on fine grater or grate with a box grater.

5. Put cleaned fish fillets and 2nd onion through meat grinder.

6. Add carrots, parsnip and onion to fish.

7. Add salt, pepper, eggs and 1/2 c sugar

8. Mix ingredients together - should be loose but hold together. If it feels too loose, add a little matzoh meal to the mix. At this point you may either form your patties or refrigerate the mix for 30 minutes to let it set.
9. With wet hands, create patties by gently rolling in a circular motion and shape like an egg.

10. Start pot to heat as you're shaping and layering your patties. Very gently lower them into the pot. Be sure not to disturb them until they're cooked and cooled.

11. A second layer is added over top the first layer.
12. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer, lid on for approximately 2 hours. After the first hour, sprinkle the remaining ground almonds to the pot.
13. To cool, put pot into a sink of cold water - about 1/2 way up the pot.
14. Once the fish is completely cooled, move to a serving platter and refrigerate until time to serve.
15. Serve with red horseradish.

Yield on 5 lb. of fish is 24 patties.

To those celebrating Passover - Chag Sameach!! StumbleUpon


Elra said...

WOW, I have been wanting to make this for ever. But, none of my family like it, that is why I haven't made. Even when we have seder, it's so rear to see this at the table. I don't even question why...

Anyway, I must try it myself, maybe they'll like it.

Ricki said...

A true classic! My mom had that exact grinder, too!

Happy Passover to you all :)

Julia said...

I made almost the identical recipe and was SO pleased with the results. Yours look great too, yasher koach and chag sameach.

Cathy said...

Hi Giz - I love your mother-daughter blog. What a great idea. My grandmother had a grinder just like that...sigh. Such memories.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I hope you'll come back for another visit.

Dragon said...

I've never tried this before but it sound great. Thanks for the recipe. :)

Ricardo said...

sounds really fresh and delicious right up spring street. :) xxx

Grace said...

thanks for sharing the special recipe, giz! and i must say, i'm loving the old-fashioned look of your photos--is that intentional?

Emily said...

Interesting stuff here, ladies. I like it. Very nice.

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Ladies!

I'm stopping by briefly as I have so much to do do today! But I made the brisket and the chicken soup yesterday thank goodness.

So, I came here specifically to wish your family a wonderful Pesach. Love your post on Gefilte fish, it is one dish I never make because my cousin Geri has been preparing it for us for at least the last 25 years. I love Babba's recipe, I might have to try it myself another time.

Next Year in Jerusalem,
Lori Lynn

P.S. I hope you join in my Passover Round-up again this year!

Joelen said...

You make gefilte fish look so delicious! Happy Passover to you!

kat said...

I've always wondered what exactly it was

Joan Nova said...

Great post...it took away some of the mystery of gefilte fish and made it very accessible. Happy Holidays to everyone in the kitchen and around the table.

Bunny said...

I love the information you give us with the recipe Giz, I've never had this but it certainly looks good!!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for educating me.

Maryann said...

I can't believe I've never had gefilte fish! I may have been turned off by the jars at the grocery store, but your homemade recipe is a whole 'nother animal.

Nick said...

Oh man, I just bought an oooolllllddd meat grinder a weeks ago and it has a nut butter blade! I'm so psyched although I haven't gotten around to using it too much yet. Looks delicious, I need to work on some recipes with it.

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Again - just came by to thank you for your contribution to the Passover Round-up!

glamah16 said...

I have always wanted to make this. Way better than the jar stuff.