HOME > Chowhound > Kosher >


"Faltche fish" - gefilte fish made from ground chicken

  • h

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. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    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

      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

        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

          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.

      2. 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

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

          1. re: helou

            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. 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

            Bailik is Yidddish for white meat of chicken.

          2. 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

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

              1. re: DeisCane

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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. 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. 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

                  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

                    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. Do you have to change forks after you eat it?

                    4 Replies
                        1. re: DeisCane

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

                          1. re: AdinaA

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

                    1. We ate this - but called it bailik fish.

                      1. 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

                          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

                            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

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