Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gefilte Fish

I've toyed with the idea of making my own gefiltes, but it always sounded too gross.  Either I have matured, or I really want to get rid of last year's matzoh meal in the pantry by the end of this Passover.

There are two ways of preparing fish for a gefilte recipe.  The more modern ones have you get the fishmonger to grind it for you.  See previous post for my recent history with the fish counter.  The traditional versions have you hack it into tiny bits.  Since I was working with previously frozen fish, I thought this would be the way to go.  While it's still a little frozen, fish isn't that difficult to mince.  I could have done it in the food processor, but then I would have had to clean it.  This recipe is just like making a meatloaf.  If you usually make your meatloaf in the food processor, it will work just as well for gefilte.

There are also two traditions of flavoring a gefilte.  Recipes from Poland and the western end of Russia have a bit of sugar in them.  Sephardic do not, but use more herbs and spices.  Manischewitz is on the sweet end, and most of the selections in the kosher aisle aren't far behind.  I'm of Ashkenazi descent, so I put the sugar in it.

The recipe I'm using is mostly from Wolfgang Puck's on Food Network, except I'm simmering instead of baking, and skipping the cabbage part.  I'm sure it looks beautiful and presents well.  I also found out from a woman on the cryptograms site who goes by momof7 that you can pre-shape the loaves in a plastic freezer bag and keep them in the freezer until you're ready to cook them.  It just takes 1-1/2 hours of simmering if you drop it in straight from frozen.

The taste when they came out was excellent.  Just the right balance of seasonings.  I chose sole and rockfish (no relation to the one in the stock) as my fish.  You want to pick a white fish that is low in fat.When I used horseradish, it did overpower the flavorings.  What I had not been prepared for was the delicate texture.  This isn't the lump you get out of the jar.  I didn't whip the egg whites as Puck does, and it was still so soft and delicate that you almost wouldn't know it's gefilte.  It was more like a fish-flavored matzoh ball.  This could have been because I used matzoh cake meal, or maybe I changed the proportions of something, or because I had it slightly warm instead of the typical chilled.  Whatever, I was happy.

1 Tb olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 lbs white fish, finely chopped or ground
*1/2 C matzoh cake meal
2 eggs
1/2 C parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 carrot, cut in julienne strips
1 leek, white part only, julienned
more parsley for garnish
1 quart fish stock

1.  Sweat the minced onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine fish, matzoh meal, cooked onion, parsley, white pepper, salt, and sugar.  Knead together to mix well.  In a small bowl, beat eggs slightly and add to fish.  Knead again to distribute.  Refrigerate mix until ready to use, or divide into portions in plastic bags and freeze.

3.  In a medium saucepan, bring fish stock to a low boil, then lower to a simmer.  Shape handfuls of mix, about 1/2 C each, into quenelles.  That's like a cross between an egg and an aspirin.  It's not a sphere, but the shape two large spoons would make.  Gently lower portions into simmering broth and allow to cook for 30 minutes (90 from frozen).  If some of it is exposed because they're floating, turn over for last 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  If serving chilled, transfer to a storage container and place in fridge.  To serve warm, set aside in the broth while preparing garnish.

4.  Bring water in a small saucepan to a boil.  Drop in julienned carrots and leek and allow to boil for half a minute.  Remove from heat, drain immediately, and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking.

5.  To serve, place one quenelle in a small bowl or dish with a spoonful of the broth and garnish with vegetable slices and parsley sprigs.

Serves 10 to 12

Difficulty rating  :-0  (for chopping the fish)

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