Making gefilte fish is just like making chicken soup and meatballs, especially if you follow my recipe below. So don’t be afraid to try it!
The classic way to make gefilte fish is to place the skin, head and bones in a pot with some vegetables, cover with water, place the fish balls on top of this mixture and then cook for an hour and a half. The reasons you haven’t made gefilte fish are: 1.The house smells for days, 2. You don’t like to handle the fish heads, 3. Some scales always stick to the fish, and 4. You like the jarred kind better! Well, I can’t help you with the jarred variety, but I can with the other issues.
First of all, if you don’t like the jelly with the fish then you can skip the whole head and skin process! The collagen in the bones jells the liquid when it is chilled. The fish balls can be poached instead in salted water to which a little carrot, onion and celery has been added.
If you do like the jelly, then just follow my directions below. Make the “soup” in advance so that there is no smell in the house on Shabbat, and then poach the fish balls in the prepared fish broth for the short time and they are done. We are modern cooks; it doesn’t take 1-½ hours to poach these little delicacies!
- 4 pounds whole fish (combination of carp, whitefish, pike, snapper or sea trout)
- 2 carrots, cut into 2 inch lengths
- 2 stalks celery cut into fourths
- 1 Bouquet Garni (1 bay leaf, thyme, marjoram and summer savory wrapped in cheesecloth)
- 1 pound yellow onions
- 2-3 quarts water
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 cup very loosely packed fresh parsley
- 2 eggs
- 1/3-cup water
- 1/2-cup matzo meal
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garlic, ginger, sugar, dill or whatever your Bubbe used to use (regional options)
- Fillet the fish or have the store do it for you.
- Rinse out the head of the fish and make sure that any bloody masses are removed. Soak all of the bones and head in cold salted water to cover for 15 minutes or longer. Drain the bones and discard the water.
- Place the bones and head on the bottom of a large Dutch oven and cover with carrots, celery, and thinly sliced onion. Add the Bouquet garni and the 2-3 quarts of water to cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Strain the liquid, reserve the carrots and set aside. Discard the bones, etc.
- To make the fish, grind the fish twice in a grinder fitted with a fine blade or process in a food processor until a fairly smooth texture. Remove the fish to a large bowl.
- Grind or process the onions, carrot and parsley and add to the fish.
- Add the eggs, water, and matzo meal and salt and pepper and mix well with a fork until light and fluffy. NOTE: to check for seasoning, cook 1 teaspoon of the fish mixture in salted water for 10 minutes. Taste and then adjust seasonings if necessary. Never taste fresh water fish raw.
- Shape the fish mixture in your hands to form ovals and gently place in a frying pan to which 1 inch of prepared fish stock has been added. Poach, covered for 20-30 minutes (depending on size) over low heat or until center of 1 fish ball appears white. Drain on a cloth towel and cool in previously made fish broth. Serve with horseradish.
- A variety of fish can be used and placed in a terrine to create layers. This eliminates the the need to make the poaching broth in the first part of the recipe.
- If making a terrine, bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350F oven until fish is firm but not dry.