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)
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!!