Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gefilte fish

For those who don't know what gefilte fish is it's kind of like a fish dumpling or a fish ball.  It's made with a combination of whitefish, pike and carp and seasoned. I've heard that other cuisines have things similar to it, but nothing exactly like it. It's a staple at Rosh Hashannah (New Year) and Passover dinners which is why I find myself making it today.

It's not really hard to make as the fishmonger does all the hard work, filleting and grinding the fish.  I do have memories of my mother and grandmother standing around the kitchen table - which was covered with brown paper - the grinder attached to one end - filleting the fish and feeding it through the grinder into a large wooden bowl in which the fish was then chopped  and seasoned.  The memories are lovely but having this work done for me is a big plus in my book.

Nowadays I buy the fish with the bones skin and head packaged separately.  I make broth with the bones, etc., adding an onion, salt and pepper.  While this is being done I dump the fish in a bowl and season it with grated onion (also supplied by the fishmonger), salt, pepper, eggs and matzoh meal and perhaps a bissel (tiny bit) of sugar.  Then I strain the broth, wet my hands and make balls out of the seasoned fish - I drop them into the boiling broth with some sliced carrots and simmer about 1 1/2 hours.  BTW, this is all done in my mother's/grandmother's original pot with her original chopper!

When the fish is done is goes into the fridge with some broth, which hopefully jells, and the carrots to be served later with horseradish - Gold's red.

During this process the entire house smells of cooking fish - I smell of cooking fish -which is not too pleasant.  Maybe this is why I consider it such a chore and only make it twice a year. DH complains about the smell although he likes the finished result .He rushes around offering to open windows and turn on exhaust fans, which, of course, would diminish the memory making properties of the fish.

Now I've got all the recipe memories tucked away in my Passover notebook.