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Apr 10, 2014 02:42 PM

Substitute for whitefish in gefilte fish recipe

Okay, I just went to order whitefish, pike and carp for gefilte fish (mom's "recipe") and was told by my fishmonger that here in NYC, it's virtually impossible to get whitefish this year due to the obscenely cold winter resulting in whatever lake they get the fish from still being frozen over. My guess is that if I searched high and low for the next two days, or went to a high-end Manhattan fish store, I might get lucky and someone might have it, but I don't have the time to do that.

Two questions:
(1) Has anyone else been told this story about a whitefish shortage? I've only found one story about it on the internet and it's about Chicago, not NYC.
(2) What's a good substitute for whitefish? I'm not a big fish-eater, so I really don't know what's at least passingly similar to whitefish in taste. The fishmonger says people are using striped bass as a substitute.

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  1. Regarding the whitefish shortage. Many parts of the Great Lakes froze over this winter, very difficult to harvest commercial quanties of fish through ice. Chicago is a border city to a great lake. The Great Lakes are a major supplier of White Fish. There are no whitefish living in NYC that I know of....they live in the Great Lakes, other places too, but not in NYC. I have fished for them in Canada, but those areas were cold too this winter.

    White fish are a mild tasting fish, I think striped bass has more texture than white fish, but can understand it is a recommendation. Wild Striped bass are larger than whitefish, if the striped bass are farm raised, they maybe very similar to whitefish. Talapia could be used as a substitute to white fish. I am not "kosher", but I can't see how commercially available talapia could be kosher, and I am on the border re farm raised striped bass.

    My "kosher" thoughts are based on what farm raised talapia eat, and what farm raised striped bass may eat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alan408

      The article about Chicago mentioned that Lake Superior is frozen over. I just would have thought that I would have been able to find more than one article...Don't let the fact that I'm making the fish from scratch (save for the boning and grinding) fool you into thinking I'm concerned about kashruth, but thanks for raising the issue--very interesting, I didn't even think about that. I'll be cooking the fish in the same 20-quart pot in which my mother made her tomato sauce (with sausage and pieces of pork in it) and boiled lobsters every now and again.

    2. My aunt makes gefilte fish with salmon and halibut. Not my favorite but it's totally doable with other fish.

      1. I would just use another mild white flesh fish. I always make it but I'm not doing it this year. See if they have a house ground for gefilte fish, it is usually all white and cheaper than buying separate fishes. Have fun.

        1. Yes I heard the same thing from my fishmonger .....impossible to get.

          1. Gefilte fish can be made with any fish. Whitefish is common because it was available, mild and inexpensive to those in Eastern Europe

            If you can't get whitefish try something else.

            I've made it with our local fish of snapper and grouper. Also tried mixing in some salmon which made it pink but it tasted good and looked pretty. Let's be honest any homemade is going to be way better then the jar stuff unless you screw it up

            1 Reply