The Gefilteria Shares Two Gefilte Fish Recipes
Jewish holidays are always made sweeter with gefilte fish, at least as far as we’re both concerned. It’s one of those holiday foods whose presence always elevates the meal, and grounds it in tradition. Since both of our family's roots are Polish (Jeffrey’s entirely), we make ours as a with a touch of sugar–in addition to the fillets of the freshest whitefish, onions, eggs, salt and white pepper–which is all the more appropriate for Rosh Hashanah, when we look for a Sweet New Year. Serve with homemade horseradish – it’s a must. -Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern
JEFFREY: At its most basic, gefilte is a cold fish appetizer served before Ashkenazi holiday and Sabbath meals, and is made by mixing freshwater fish with eggs, onions, and spices. One of the things that drew us to gefilte fish was that it stood as a symbol of resourcefulness—how far a single fish could be stretched to feed an entire family. It had a practical aspect, too. On the Sabbath, Jews are prohibited from separating bones from flesh, so by finely grinding the fish, the proscription was circumvented. We love thinking of ways to restore gefilte to its rightful place on the table, especially for the Passover seder, when gefilte is often front and center. This recipe has a classic base, but we’ve added herbs to give it a taste of spring and a touch of color. There is also no matzo meal or bread crumbs in this recipe, giving it a lighter texture and removing any gluten. You have two options for how to cook and serve your gefilte fish. Poaching quenelles in a fish broth is a classic method used by generations of Jewish cooks, and baking the fish in a terrine is a quick and contemporary approach that will slice and plate beautifully. Liz and I both prefer the baked terrine, but enough friends and family members request the poached option that we couldn’t ignore the pull of tradition. The first stage of the process for this gefilte fish is nearly identical to the Smoked Whitefish Gefilte Terrine (page 172) and the Old World Stuffed Gefilte Fish (page 169) (until it gets stuffed into the skin).
Note The whitefish we use here refers to the species Coregonus clupeaformis from the Great Lakes. If you can’t find whitefish, substitute any one of the following: hake, sole, flounder, whiting, tilapia, or halibut.