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"Faltche fish" - gefilte fish made from ground chicken

helou Apr 6, 2011 11:11 AM

My mother used to make something we called "faltche fish" - literally fake fish. It was made like gefilte fish but out of ground chicken white meat. I've tried to make this but it comes out dry and a little crumbly. Is anyone familiar with this, and have a good recipe?

I was so spoiled; I never needed to make it (or many other dishes, like stuffed cabbage and blintzes) because my mother always made an extra batch for me, long after I was married and had children of my own.

  1. d
    DLHG333 Mar 27, 2012 08:31 PM

    I am so happy to find your comment about this! My Baba used to make this recipe and call it
    Fleish Fish, and it was our tradition to eat it on Passover. My Baba died 18 years ago, and since then I only made the recipe a few times. This Pesach I am going to make her recipe so that my Uncle will be happy. I am determined to make this so that it doesn't get dry and crumbly (something I remember happening). Wish me luck! Chag Sameach!

    3 Replies
    1. re: DLHG333
      helou Mar 28, 2012 04:22 AM

      I'm the OP. If you can get it so it's not dry and crumbly please please post and tell us what you did. I'll be making it again this year, using many of the ideas on this thread, but my previous tries never came close to my mother's yummy, moist results.
      I don't understand the long cooking time, and I wonder if that's partly causing the dryness. If I broil or fry a chicken cutlet for only 4 minutes or so on each side, why cook the balls/patties for upwards of an hour. I've even seen recipes calling for 1 1/2 hours.

      1. re: helou
        bagelman01 Mar 28, 2012 05:18 AM

        The chickens your mother/grandmopther used were older and tougher than the factory farmed chickens sold in America today. Hence they needed much longer cooking times.

        Today, chickens are slaughtered at a very young age. It used to be soup chickens were hens that stopped laying and had no other use, Even 30 years ago a 6-8 lb kosher roasting chicken was the norm, today you are lucky to find one more than 4.5 pounds.

        Younger birds, less tough, less taste, shorter cooking times. To add flavor, use some dark meat as well as the white.

        1. re: helou
          magiesmom Mar 28, 2012 05:54 AM

          well, chicken quenelles, which are admittedly different but the same in terms of the chicken poach for 5 minutes.

      2. mamachef Apr 8, 2011 08:53 AM

        We ate this - but called it bailik fish.

        1. a
          AdinaA Apr 7, 2011 03:17 PM

          Do you have to change forks after you eat it?

          4 Replies
          1. re: AdinaA
            pitagirl Apr 8, 2011 07:32 AM

            no, it's chicken

            1. re: pitagirl
              DeisCane Apr 8, 2011 08:29 AM

              I think adina was kidding.

              1. re: DeisCane
                AdinaA Apr 8, 2011 08:41 AM

                Thank you. Pitagirl is probably overwhelmed, Nisan can be overwhelming.

                1. re: AdinaA
                  pitagirl Apr 8, 2011 10:27 AM

                  :), sorry - yes I am overwhelmed with how expensive pesach is!! it's one week!!!

          2. z
            zsero Apr 6, 2011 11:40 PM

            That's "falshe", not "faltche". I believe It's an Oberlander custom not to eat fish on Pesach. I heard that it's because the Oberland was far from any river, so fish was usually not fresh but preserved in alcohol.

            2 Replies
            1. re: zsero
              cappucino Apr 7, 2011 03:32 AM

              Interesting. Now I understand why the fish had to be caught and cleaned right in front of her. The thing is that, as I mentioned, my grandmother did not have an ounce of Hungarian in her. The entire family (all of her sisters) followed this custom. Oh well. Either way, nice to see this thread. There are so many things that we have taken with us from Europe.

              1. re: zsero
                DeisCane Apr 8, 2011 08:28 AM

                The Oberlander region is pretty much defined by the upper Danube so i don't think that's accurate.

                In general, Hungarians (particularly non-Transylvanian Hungarians) just don't eat a lot of fish, aside from some stews and simple fried river and lake fish.

                Also, this dish sounds an awful lot like fasirt, which is basically meatloaf and is a staple of Hungarian cooking. Goyim make it with pork and/or beef, Jews more oftenwith poultry. It's relatively easy to make pesadich and we do so every year. There's certainly a linguistic similarity between falsche (cognate is false) and fasirt (in Hungarian, the s is pronounced sh) but I think that's a mere coincidence.

              2. m
                MartyB Apr 6, 2011 05:03 PM

                Thanks for this post! My mother used to make this at home. I loved it but never made it after I got married. You jarred my memory and now me, with a mess load of ground chicken cutlets in my freezer, I will definitely be making it. My mother also put in wedges of potatoes which were heavenly!

                1. m
                  Maggie Larkin Apr 6, 2011 01:08 PM

                  wow never knew anything like this existed. will have to keep it in mind for next year's passover as i am already tapped out for this one :)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Maggie Larkin
                    DeisCane Apr 6, 2011 01:36 PM

                    My Hunky MIL told me about this. They don't really like fish much. ;-)

                    1. re: DeisCane
                      seikoloco Apr 6, 2011 01:52 PM

                      I had this two years ago at a friends home at Passover. They are Satmar and I thought the reason for the chicken loaf instead of gefilte fish was to avoid the use of matza meal (gabructs) on Passover. Do any of the receipes acknowlege no use of matza meal or bread crumbs? they only make it on passover and I assume that was the reason

                      1. re: seikoloco
                        helou Apr 6, 2011 02:04 PM

                        That's true about the gabrukts, but that's true about every non-Passover food that's converted for Passover. We, and many people, eat gefilte fish all year, and we used to eat this falch fish all year as well. I've heard some people add cooked, mashed up potatoes when they make it for Passover.

                        1. re: helou
                          cappucino Apr 6, 2011 02:35 PM

                          My grandmother was Polish/Austrian (Galiciana) and made this fish every Pesach. I know that the reason she did this was because in Europe when preparing food for Pesach they only used whole fish that were caught and cleaned right in front of you. There was some kind of fear of eating Chometz. This is why years later while living in New York, my grandmother would go to the fish store before Pesach and he would have live fish swimming in a tank in the store. She would choose a carp from the tank and only serve that. No fish that were just lying around on ice. Then she would make the falcha fish (which I did not like, much as I did not like the calichlach that she made all year--meatballs made of ground chicken).

                          1. re: cappucino
                            craigcep Apr 7, 2011 12:23 PM

                            Buying live fish is not a custom specific to your house. My grandmothers both report the same thing. It's such a popular notion, that there's a book called "The Carp in the Bathtub" - http://www.amazon.com/Carp-Bathtub-Ba...

                            1. re: craigcep
                              AdinaA Apr 7, 2011 12:36 PM

                              The Carp in the Bathtub is arguably the best children's picture book every written in English on a Jewish theme. It works for both frum and non-observant families. If you kids haven't had it, buy a copy. I'd say ages 4-8.

                  2. a
                    azna29 Apr 6, 2011 12:52 PM

                    I read an article about this in Saveur several months ago. Here's a link to the article and the recipe. They called it bailik fish.



                    1 Reply
                    1. re: azna29
                      Reveg Apr 7, 2011 05:49 PM

                      Bailik is Yidddish for white meat of chicken.

                    2. f
                      ferret Apr 6, 2011 12:39 PM

                      My mom too (Hungarian?). I don't have the recipe nearby but recall it was pretty much a chicken loaf with breadcrumbs and eggs to bind. My mother used breasts only but I think it would be improved with added dark meat (all finely ground).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ferret
                        helou Apr 6, 2011 12:42 PM

                        Yes, of course Hungarian, :-) . I'm afraid that dark meat would affect the color.

                        1. re: helou
                          magiesmom Apr 6, 2011 01:34 PM

                          If you use about one third dark meat the color is still fairly light and it is MUCH tastier.
                          This can be done in food processor without pureeing it if you pulse and check, and start with cold meat. I also add a couple of egg whites in addition to the whole eggs, it lightens it up alot.

                      2. d
                        Diane in Bexley Apr 6, 2011 12:30 PM

                        GEFILTE CHICKEN
                        Yield: serves 5 - 6
                        • 2 onions, sliced
                        • 2 carrots, sliced
                        • 1 stalk celery, cut up
                        • 4 cups water
                        • 2 eggs
                        • 1 T chicken soup base or equivalent bouillon cube
                        • pepper, to taste
                        • 4 boned chicken breasts
                        • 1/2 cup cold water
                        • 1/2 cup matzo meal
                        • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
                        Put sliced onions, sliced carrots, celery, soup base or bouillon cube, salt, a little pepper and 4 cups water into large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook broth while you prepare chicken.
                        Cut up chicken breasts in food grinder or finely by hand (food processor will make chicken puree – do not use) and chop them well with 2 chopped onions. Add eggs and continue to chop as you gradually add water and matzo meal alternately.

                        Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Bring broth to rolling boil.
                        Dampen hands with cold water and form chicken mixture into patties or balls and drop into boiling stock. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover pot and allow to simmer an hour or so. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate. Does not freeze successfully. Will keep 2-3 days in refrigerator.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Diane in Bexley
                          helou Apr 6, 2011 12:44 PM

                          Thanks a lot. I will try this. I think when I've tried before I didn't have enough onions, matzoh meal and water in the chicken mixture.

                          1. re: Diane in Bexley
                            Diane in Bexley Apr 7, 2011 09:00 AM

                            WOW! I had no idea this was strictly Hungarian. The interesting thing is that this comes from my mother's side, where they were observant but not overtly religious. My father's side is Satmar, but all those relatives perished in the Holocaust, I have no recipes from my father's side. I always made this because I am not a fish person, don't care for gefilte fish. Good Luck!

                            1. re: Diane in Bexley
                              pitagirl Apr 7, 2011 09:21 AM

                              I always thought my Bubby and mom made it for me because I wouldn't eat fish! We actually call them fishels, and ate them all year, not just on Pesach. My Bubby was born here but her mother (which I assume she learned how to make if from) was from Poland.

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