Recipe Review: Homemade Gefilte Fish
We can almost hear the sound of the mouse clicking to the next page or your index finger rolling down the scroll button… Gefilte fish—much less homemade gefilte fish—is not on most people’s wish list. Passover is almost over, seder plates have been cleaned and put away, and we’re talking gefilte fish? Well, we’re hoping that maybe next year, when you’re looking for a fresh alternative to the jarred stuff, you might find your way back here. Because this recipe is easy and delicious. (Why, hello. Are you still reading?)
Even for Jews who grew up eating it, gefilte fish can be an acquired taste. It’s got a strong flavor, a lot of onion, and a mushy texture that turns a lot of people off. The floating balls stuffed in the jar are downright offensive to me, personally.
But. I have a half-Jewish/half-Christian family, and I wanted Easter brunch to represent both sides of my heritage. I also had the itch for a project (much like Faith and her cake decorating). I was watching Jewish cookbook author Joan Nathan on the Martha Stewart show, and she was making a gefilte fish loaf. In a bundt pan! No shaping individual patties, and therefore not nearly as much work (although not exactly traditional). It looked downright easy, and the finished product was fluffy, bright, and beautiful.
Technically, this is a gefilte fish “pâté,” as Nathan calls it, because it’s not shaped into patties. But it is really, really easy. The hardest part is finding the fish. You’ll need fresh whitefish (an easy one in New York City) and pike (not so). I found both at Citarella, and the kind man behind the counter de-boned them for me.
Then you simply grind the fish in a food processor, throw it in a standing mixer, and mix it with cooked onions, eggs, matzoh meal, carrots, water, and seasonings. It bakes for two hours in a water bath and flops out of the bundt pan so quickly and easily I almost dropped the whole platter on the floor. I wasn’t ready for the thud.
The flavor is, indeed, that of gefilte fish. If you don’t like the stuff, this isn’t going to make you a convert. But it’s got a much more mellow, less fishy taste than the jarred variety, and the texture is light and airy. It makes a ton (an entire bundt pan, obviously), so make sure you have a gefilte-loving crowd.
• Here’s the recipe: Gefilte Fish Pâté, from Joan Nathan (via Martha Stewart)
Related: The Food Traditions of Passover
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)