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Apr 28, 2009 09:25 AM

The Best Gefilte Fish

I will be trying new Gefilte Fish Recipes - Would love some input form chow hounds.

Looking to make traditional Polish Ashkenaz style recipe.

Tips I've accumulated thus far...

1. Don't grind fish too smooth
2. Use fresh-water white fish ... avoid salt-water species
3. Add sugar to the broth, not the fish mixture
4. Controversy re: adding any sugar at all
4. Important to include head and bones for broth
5. Flour vs. Potato Starch controversial
6. Make horseradish home-made.

Any input would be most appreciated


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  1. I just made some gefilte fish for Passover.

    I did an unconventioanl style and used salmon and red snapper. I didn't use any starch but did you matzah meal. No sugar but didn't cook in a homemade fish broth since I bought filets and not whole fish. Again not traditional but it turned out quite well.

    I did make my own horseradish which is way better than the ones at the market.

    5 Replies
    1. re: scubadoo97

      I've been making GF for years. I used a recipe the first time from Spice and Spirit of Kosher Cooking (great book, by the way!) and then I just branched out on my own. I always use whitefish and pike b/c I can't stand carp. I ask the guys at the fish store to give me the head and bones and skins in a separate package. I place that in cheesecloth and make a little bundle tied at the top. I out that in a pot with sliced onions and carrots and a handful of fresh parsley (because I like parsley) a little salt and pepper and sometimes a pinch of sugar. I put in water to cover and bring it to a boil.

      The fish goes into the food processor and gets pulsed until it's pretty ground up but not smooth. Since the fish usually has pinbones, I like to grind it till the bones are ground, too. I put the fish in a bowl and then grind up a couple of carrots and onions and sometimes more fresh parsley) and then add that to the fish along with some matza meal and eggs, salt and pepper. You can add a little sugar if you want but I usually don't. I mix it all with my hands (scrubbed clean, of course, rings removed) and then put th ewhole bowl in the fridge for about half an hour. The I form balls and drop them into the boiling broth. I usually make 2 pots at once so the balls have room to cook. Last time I added a little paprika to the broth for color. I don't measure anything, but the fish were approx 3-5lbs each but once the bones and head are removed, there's less. I'd estaimate that I use 4-6 eggs and about a cup of matza meal. Carrots and onions depend on my mood. If I feel like adding more, I do.

      As for the horseradish, I don't care for it so I use plain beets for myself. But I make it for everyone else. I grind fresh horseradish in the FP with beets, and add a little lemon juice and sugar to taste.

      My recipe doesn't taste like the bottled or frozen gefilte fish- I think it's better :-)


      1. re: Miri1

        My first attempt I used a meat grinder but on this last one I used the food processor. Started with some onions and carrots to a fine chop then added the fish, egg, matzo meal, parsley and pulsed until broken down well but not pureed. Texutre was very good and it was simple, quick and easy using the food processor.

        1. re: Miri1

          I like to grind the onions with the eggs, salt, and pepper in the food processor to make a cream. That way, the onion is completely pureed. That gets mixed in with the fish mixture and matzoh meal. Then, for the carrots, I shread them with a fine grater and stir them into the mixture right at the end, so that the shreds stay intact ... I think it looks rather nice that way. I also like a little chopped parsley - it freshens it all up a bit.

          Once the fish is cooked, I strain the broth through a chinois a few times, to get it fairly clear, then reduce it by at least 1/3. Then I strain it one more time, and pour it over the fish so that it forms a sparkling, good-tasting aspic. mmmmm!

          1. re: Miri1

            I know this is an old post but, I love your technique, how do process the fish? I like you idea about pureeing the onions with the eggs. I have to try it!

            1. re: liza219

              for the broth-I use parsley root, parsley,carrots, parsnip,onion, leek,celeriac, and celery-I also place bones and head in bottom of pot.

              I use pike and/or whitefish and matzah meal-no sugar

              There are some other links on kosher board to hints,etc.

        2. Here's what I do. Pick two types of fish: buffalo; carp; pike; and, whitefish. Remove skeleton and head, boil in a gallon of bottled water. Preferably in a cheesecloth bag. While stock is cooking, chop fish with mezzaluna or chef's knife to medium coarse texture, mix with egg and matzo meal, add a little salt, a little sugar, black pepper. Form into small loaves, about 2 inches by 3 inches. Chill for a while, then drop into boiling stock. Don't forget to add lots of sliced carrots to the stock while cooking the fish.

          p.s. I don't measure.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kate is always hungry

            Thanks so much. Will be up to my elbows in fish this weekend. Really appreciate all the detail, Miri1!

          2. Some good tips above (I'm definitely in the no sugar camp, and agree that chopping with a mezzaluna -- aka 'hacker'-- with suitable vigor yields the fluffiest results!)

            One other thing that makes fresh-made gefilte fish so much better is the skin! My mom used to cut it into strips, and after the filling was cooked, wrap it around, using a toothpick to pin in place-- hence the 'gefilte' part of 'gefilte fish'. The wrapped fish gets fried in some shallow oil until the skin gets nice and crispy-- yum!

            1. And for the true chowhounds I offer the very old Eastern European method. Of course you have to start with a live carp (found in Brooklyn this year). Kill fish by stunning and then cutting off head. Slice fish into 2 inch slices. Scrape out the guts, then scrape the meat. You will have rings of skin with some meat clinging to it. Grind the meat with pike, and whitefish, etc etc. Stuff the ground fish back into the rings of skin. Layer bones and carrot and onion on the bottom of the pot. Add water and gently simmer the fish. Of course the horseradish has to be homemade. For extra authenticity hand grate outside, so you can cry less. Food processors .... who had food processors in the old country.

              1. I have never made gefilte fish but I do make a lot of fish stock and have found that adding a whole parsnip really improves the flavor and gives just a hint of sweetness. Just an idea instead of sugar, I'm sure it's not authentic or anything. Hopefully this doesn't offend anyone.

                1 Reply
                1. re: GretchenS

                  It probably is very authentic considering that pretty much the only vegetables that do well in the area where the dish originated are root vegetables. It would add a more subtle sweetness that sugar wouldn't.