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Apr 21, 2008 07:41 AM

Totally homemade gefilte fish - baked

Last year I made gefilte fish for the first time ever. I used a very traditional recipe and simmered the patties in fish broth and yes, it was delicious. But it was also pretty labour-intensive and stunk up the house for two days. I was reluctant to do it again. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with the normal smell of cooked fish but there is something entirely different about the odour of gefilte fish cooking - like a carp had died under the sink two weeks ago and nobody bothered to get rid of the corpse.

So this year I was going to buy one of those prepared frozen loaves that you cook yourself. But a friend told me about her recipe which she swore was fantastic. I took a chance. She was right. It is not only fantastic, but ridiculously easy. I will never - NEVER - boil another gefilte fish patty. This is the best. So I'm sharing.

Cindy's Baked Gefilte Fish

1 large onion
3 carrots (two for mixture, one for garnish – you’ll see)
4 eggs
3 lbs. ground fish (I used a mixture of pike, whitefish and salmon)
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp. matzo meal
3/4 cup ice water

Preheat the oven to 325o F. Grease a large bundt pan.

In a food processor, blend the onion, 2 of the carrots and eggs until nearly smooth. Put fish in large bowl and add blended ingredients. Add salt, pepper, sugar and oil. Mix adding water slowly to mixture. Add matzo meal and mix for 5 minutes.

Cut 1 carrot into thin curls with potato peeler place in the bundt pan, curling them so that they will be on the outside of the loaf when it’s turned out. Gently cover with layer of fish and pat firmly with wet hands. Cover with tin foil and bake for one hour. Uncover and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes or until done. (I cooked for the full additional 30 minutes because my mixture wasn’t pureed quite enough and the carrot chunks needed to be cooked more. Maybe next time I might actually par-cook the carrots or just puree the mixture more.)

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Turn out carefully onto a large cake plate or pie pan (pie pan will catch the juices, which is good), cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

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  1. I attempted home made gefilte fish last year and decided it was just a lot of work. This sounds really good and easy. I've logged this recipe for future use. Thanks for posting.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Oh, I know. But what most people would recognize as gefilte fish is definitely not what you describe. I have actually never had the really gefilte-ed fish, but my mother did make stuffed goose (or turkey or chicken) neck which is really much more delicious than it sounds. I can't remember what she called it in Hungarian.

          1. re: Michael Juhasz

            Yeah maybe halsli. Or helzel. Halasli is a Hungarian fish soup, I think. My Hungarian is very rusty.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Halaszle is fish soup (or, I think, fisherman's soup, more acurately). Halsli is the Hungarian name for stuffed goose neck, which is called helzel by non-Hungarian Ashkenazi.

              1. re: Michael Juhasz

                Ok - gotcha. Thanks for the Hungarian brush-up. I no longer have anyone to speak regularly with in Hungarian and I'm losing it! My father was an avid fisherman and my mother used to make halaszle occasionally with what he'd bring home - cursing him all the while. She hated fish, hated the smell of fish, hated it when he cleaned the fish in the kitchen sink. It was a match made in Hungarian heaven - he loved to fish, she loved to yell at him. Perfect.

          2. re: Nyleve

            Helzele? I remember that, my grandmother made it. I would be tempted to try to do it. I love crispy chicken skin.

            1/4 cup of sugar? What are you, a Galitzianer? Kidding. But seriously, it does seem like a lot.

            I made chrain, that was easy. I used fresh beets. I made a lot, so I need more gefilte fish. Maybe I'll try it your way, though I don't know about the sugar. My Litvak side must be coming to the fore.

            1. re: wearybashful

              Oddly enough, Hungarians generally do not like their fish or meat to be sweet but my mother always loved sweet gefilte fish. So that's what I got used to. It's not outrageously sweet, really, but you could certainly reduce the sugar however much you want.

              Oh and I made chrain also and it was gone in a flash. So good this year - no beets but I spiked it with wasabi powder for extra oomph. Everyone went crazy.

            2. re: Nyleve

              Last Rosh Hashannah some one made it stuffed in carp for a none Jewish pot luck. I was pregnant and I normally don't do fish anyway so it would not tempt my lips. Then she tried to get my husband to eat it saying, "It tastes just like crab cakes". We couldn't stop laughing for the treyf comparison!

          3. This sounds excellent, thanks.

            I'm doing something new with my chrain this year--making one portion at a time so it doesn't lose its flavor. I'm grating a little bit off my big piece with a microplane, and splashing in a little vinegar, salt, sugar, and juice from my pickled beets. The microplane works great but I wouldn't want to be standing there crying over a big bowl of it.

            7 Replies
            1. re: heidipie

              Chrain is, for me, a once-a-year job. I appreciate your desire to preserve the intensity of the horseradish, but once I've made a batch I don't want to do it again anytime soon. I use my processor and even that makes me cry.

              1. re: Nyleve

                Would either of you care to share your recipe for chrain? I would love to try making some. How long does this keep, any idea?
                Loved reading this post btw....all the talk about hezele, hezelah made me think of my bubbie. She made the best! I don't think I would even attempt something like that. Man, I haven't had it in close to 40 years. My sister and I would fight over it. I'm taking the stuffed neck thingee, not the fish soup.

                1. re: millygirl

                  Honestly - here's my recipe. I get a big chunk of horseradish root, peel it and cut it into chunks. Put it in the processor with a bit of sugar, salt and some vinegar and let 'er rip. I usually drape a dish towel over top of the processor to slow down the fumes so they don't set my nostrils on fire while I'm doing this. After a while, I lift the lid, taste and adjust sugar, salt and vinegar to taste. I've never made it with beet. THIS YEAR, however, I added a few tsps. of wasabi powder to make sure it was killer enough. There were complaints last year. The wasabi did the trick.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    millygirl, my difference from nyleve is that because we have wimpyer types in my family, I cook some fresh beets. I take the food processor outside, put in chunked and peeled horseradish root, and process using the knife blade. Then the beets go in. I put it in a bowl and start adding salt, sugar, and cider vinegar.

                    I don't think anybody can give you measurements. It's all to taste. But it's a condiment, so I don't skimp on salt. Sugar is probably the only thing that can get you into trouble if you don't go slow..

                    1. re: wearybashful

                      Okay dumb question but.....why take the food processor outside? Fumes or noise, or what? Sounds really good. How long do you think this can keep without spoiling?

                      1. re: millygirl

                        You take it outside to allow the fumes to dissipate with any passing breeze. I swear it can peel the paint off the wall. I could have done that myself but didn't think of it at the time.

                        This will keep quite a long time but the strength actually fades fairly quickly. After a couple of days it's just the shadow of its former horseradishy self - but then some people would be ok with that. The vinegar, salt and sugar actually preserves it, as long as it's tightly covered and refrigerated.

                  2. re: millygirl

                    I made 6 lbs of prepared horseradish this year for our two Seders. I use my meat grinder instead of the food processor. Simple to make. The hard part is peeling the root and cutting it into chunks. I also added a couple of peeled raw beets. It all went through the grinder which was placed under the range hood set on high. This took care of the fumes. A little salt and white vinegar to set the heat and preserve. Great stuff and plenty hot.

              2. Just wanted to report that I made this gefilte fish to use up my chrain. I made 2/3 in a loaf pan since it was just for family. I used my grinder to grind the fish, (rockfish and salmon) so I put the carrots and onion through the grinder afterwards to get all the fish through. I used half the sugar- still too sweet for me. But it was good. And easy, even with grinding my own fish.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wearybashful

                  Great to hear. The sugar is obviously a personal thing - glad you enjoyed it anyway.

                2. Question! when you say mix for 5 minutes -- in the food processor? that seems like a long time! Any trouble getting it out of the bundt pan? I've had disasters with honey cake in the past.
                  Thanks. Want to make this for my seder Tuesday night.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: graciegayle

                    I used a food pro last year when making gefilte fish. Pulse until you get a good texture you're happy with. It won't take long. In 5 min you would have fish soup. You want it to have a texture like you put it through a meat grinder.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      I used a stand mixer to do this. Scubadoo97 is probably right - in a food processor would be way too long. It just needs to be mixed so that it's mixed. I'm making mine Sunday.