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Carp a la Juive (chilled fish steaks, Jewish style)?

chefMolnar Mar 18, 2013 09:28 AM

I posted this message on the Kosher board but no response yet, so I'll try here:
Anybody have experience with making Carp a la Juive? It's an old Jewish dish in which carp steaks are poached in a court bouillon or sweet-and-sour sauce and chilled till it gels. I am thinking of making it instead of gefilte fish for the seder--and probably not with carp. I tried it this weekend with whitefish steaks, which tasted good but was way too bony. I'd also rather not use salmon.
Any tips? Suggestions for an alternative fish?

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    Nyleve RE: chefMolnar Mar 18, 2013 10:07 AM

    Oh my. That was a weekly staple at our house when I was growing up. My mother - Hungarian - used to make it every Friday night and I...hated...it. The carp, the jelly, the whole business. I really don't mean to mock your dish, but it is the one thing that actually gives me the shivers to think about. I'm pretty sure my mother just put the slices (the carp was sliced crosswise into steaks) in a large pot with onions, carrots and other aromatics and just simmered it. When the vegetables were tender, it was all arranged in a large dish, the broth was poured over and it was chilled. The broth would semi-solidify and it was served with the fish and vegetables. Yes, sometimes horseradish (red, of course) was served with it. If I find a proper recipe, I'll post it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nyleve
      chefMolnar RE: Nyleve Mar 18, 2013 10:24 AM

      Thanks. Usually I go global--Moroccan, Italian, etc., but this year I wanted to go kind of retro-Ashkenazi. Growing up, we always had gefilte fish at seders so this is kind of new to me. Here's my question. Did you find the carp flavor too strong and would you suggest another fish? Did you find the bones a real bother? I have a couple of recipes and if I can adapt them it would be worth a try.

      BTW, my grandfather was Hungarian but I never knew him. I'm told he used to spend Sunday afternoons reading Hungarian cookbooks.

      1. re: chefMolnar
        Nyleve RE: chefMolnar Mar 18, 2013 10:48 AM

        Well carp has a very particular flavour. it's a dark-fleshed fish, that always tasted a bit muddy to me. Or maybe it's my mind remembering it that way. The bones don't bother me and, in fact, I recall carp having really large bones - not fiddly little ones. You could do another type of poached fish - I suppose wild salmon would do if you could find it - but I've always felt the dish is all about the very humbleness of the ingredients, so switching to a less assertive, more refined fish would lose the entire point of it. But maybe I'm also inventing an excuse for never even trying to improve this heirloom recipe to make it more generally acceptable. Oh and don't bother trying to make it with fillets - you need the bones to get the gelatinous broth.

        I have a weird feeling that I will find the recipe in one of my Hungarian cookbooks - I will look for it later.

    2. chefMolnar RE: chefMolnar Mar 18, 2013 11:15 AM

      Thanks to Nyleve--it would be great to see a Hungarian version. Any thoughts from anyone who actually likes this dish? ;^)

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        Indy 67 RE: chefMolnar Mar 18, 2013 01:01 PM

        The recipe for Carp a la Juive in THE NY TIMES PASSOVER COOKBOOK lists carp or pike or salmon.

        The Italians have a recipe that is a close cousin, at least the sweet and sour variation, Pesce all'Ebraica. That recipe as written in THE WORLD OF JEWISH COOKING suggests using two whole fish options (red snapper or trout) and five fillet options (sole, flounder, cod, grouper, and haddock).

        This recipe has been posted on another web site. Here's the link to that recipe:


        9 Replies
        1. re: Indy 67
          chefMolnar RE: Indy 67 Mar 18, 2013 01:41 PM

          Yes, the NYT recipe is one I am looking at. Have you ever tried it?

          1. re: chefMolnar
            Indy 67 RE: chefMolnar Mar 18, 2013 03:02 PM

            Sorry, no. I once made a sweet and sour salmon recipe that was delicious. Shortly thereafter, I discovered a fabulous gefilte fish recipe that has the added virtue of being baked in a baking dish and cut into squares. No forming patties. No poaching. It contains a mixture of a white-fleshed fish and salmon so I suspect you won't be quite as enthusiastic about it as I am.

            1. re: Indy 67
              magiesmom RE: Indy 67 Mar 18, 2013 06:56 PM

              do you have a link?

              1. re: magiesmom
                Indy 67 RE: magiesmom Mar 19, 2013 04:21 AM

                I've already shared the cyber-kitchen link to Gil Marks' recipe (substitute salmon.) Below, I've provided a link to a version by Faye Levy from her INTERNATIONAL JEWISH COOKBOOK. I made the Faye Levy version, but I fiddled with some of the quantities of sweet & sour ingredients and swapped Marks' pine nuts and raisins for Levy's walnuts and currants.


              2. re: Indy 67
                chefMolnar RE: Indy 67 Mar 18, 2013 09:17 PM

                Yes, I'd be interested in that too. I'm not opposed to including salmon--it's just that I'm kind of tired of plain salmon.

                1. re: Indy 67
                  meatn3 RE: Indy 67 Mar 20, 2013 01:33 PM

                  Indy- Do you have a link for the baking dish gefilte fish?

                  1. re: meatn3
                    Nyleve RE: meatn3 Mar 20, 2013 02:18 PM

                    I have made this one and it is really good. MUCH better than jellied carp and furthermore it doesn't stink up your house (for DAYS) like traditional poached gefilte fish. P.S. I have no idea who Sookie is - a friend gave me this recipe years ago. I assume she won't mind me sharing it.

                    Sookie’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.

                    1. re: meatn3
                      Indy 67 RE: meatn3 Mar 20, 2013 03:27 PM

                      With pleasure! The very detailed notes that follow are the result of my having made this recipe many, many times over the years.

                      White Fish and Salmon Gefilte Fish


                      Serves 16

                      2 medium-large onions, peeled and cut into chunks
                      5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
                      2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
                      1 cup parsley sprigs, generously filled
                      1 pound salmon fillets, skinned and cut into 2-inch pieces
                      2 pounds white fish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
                      (e.g. cod, sole, carp or red snapper),
                      3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
                      1/2 cup vegetable oil
                      1 1/2 teaspoons salt OR to taste
                      1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

                      Any of the following for presentation: Lettuce leaves, cooked or raw carrot slices, cherry tomatoes, and horseradish

                      Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

                      Fit food processor with metal blade. Process onions until minced. Remove to a VERY large bowl. Process carrots, celery and parsley until minced. Add to onions. Reserve vegetable mixture.

                      Continue to use the metal blade, and process the salmon in one or two batches. Add to the vegetable mixture. Process the white fish in batches until ground. Also add to vegetables.

                      In a separate bowl, beat eggs and egg yolk. Add oil, salt and pepper to mix until well-blended. Add liquid to contents of big bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.

                      Transfer mixture to an ungreased 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool. (Fish may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen. Defrost in refrigerator.)

                      To serve: Cut into squares and place on lettuce leaves. Garnish with carrot slices and serve with horseradish, if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

                      My notes:
                      o Use fresh carrots, the kind with the greens still attached. Fresh carrots tend to be thinner than bagged carrots so feel free to add another carrot or two. Precise measurements aren't required.

                      o When preparing the parsley, try to avoid using the center stem or the thicker branches. Don't make yourself crazy since everything will be minced in the processor, but I like the texture that results from using primarily leaves of flat parsley with only the thinner diameter branches. I always mound the parsley over the top of the measuring cup. The dark green is so pretty in the fish mixture and it introduces a bright taste.

                      o No need to wash the bowl between food processing grinds. Everything is going to be mixed together in the end.

                      o Getting the fish carefully prepped is the hardest part of this recipe. I ask my fish counter guy to skin the salmon and trim as much of the dark meat as possible. The trimmed salmon should be cut into 2" wide strips.

                      o I would avoid a white fish that has a dark meat section (e.g. rockfish AKA striped bass). I've been happiest with the mildest fish that looks nice in the fish case that day: sole, flounder, or halibut. (If you use halibut, it will need to be skinned and cut into strips.)

                      o The original recipe included 1/4 cup of sugar. I have never used any sugar in my gefilte fish. I'm from a family that follows the savory tradition of gefilte fish so I omitted the sugar from day one and my guests seem to think the results are just fine.

                      o Mixing by hand is strongly recommended to best disperse the vegetables throughout the ground fish. In spite of my using modern conveniences, when I plunge my hands into the deep bowl, I feel a connection to generations of cooks who made gefilte fish by hand.

                      1. re: Indy 67
                        meatn3 RE: Indy 67 Mar 20, 2013 08:20 PM

                        Thank you both! This looks like a method which would appeal to some of my gel-adverse family members. Plus it looks much easier.

                        I appreciate the notes and comments too!

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                Nyleve RE: chefMolnar Mar 19, 2013 06:09 PM

                Just to let you know, I've hunted through all the Hungarian cookbooks I own and I can't find the jellied carp recipe. Which tells me something. I think you'll be much better off with that Italian recipe. Enjoy!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Nyleve
                  chefMolnar RE: Nyleve Mar 20, 2013 09:49 AM

                  Thank you for the effort! I may go with a sweet-and-sour filet or even a gefilte-style baked terrine (neo-Ashkenazi, I guess). At any rate, thanks for the insights and memories.
                  By the way, over on the Kosher board the thought of carp seems to have inspired other Hungarian horror stories.

                  1. re: chefMolnar
                    Diane in Bexley RE: chefMolnar Mar 20, 2013 01:19 PM

                    CM, I won't recount my horror of carp in the bathtub here, but did want to say that my great-aunt (also Hungarian) took pity on me as a child since I wouldn't eat the carp (no how, no way!) and made gefilte chicken, just for me. It is easy to do with boneless, skinless chicken breast and a food processor and is what we now do for Pesach. If you are interested in a recipe, let me know.

                    1. re: chefMolnar
                      Nyleve RE: chefMolnar Mar 20, 2013 05:27 PM

                      Ha! I just read the posts on the Kosher board. Seems we need a support group: Adult Survivors of Carp-Related Trauma

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