Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gefilte Fish ~ Happy Passover *

"Gefilte fish (/ɡəˈfɪltə fɪʃ/, from Yiddish: געפֿילטע פֿיש, german: gefüllter Fisch "stuffed fish") is a Ashkenazi Jewish dish made from a poached mixture of ground deboned fish, such as carp, whitefish and/or pike, which is typically eaten as an appetizer." [*Passover for the year 2012 begins at sunset Friday April 6th.]

"Although the dish historically consisted of a minced-fish forcemeat stuffed inside the fish skin, as its name implies, since the 19th century the skin has commonly been omitted and the seasoned fish is formed into patties similar to quenelles or fish balls. They are popular on Shabbat and Holidays such as Passover, although they may be consumed throughout the year."

"Traditionally, carp, pike, mullet, or whitefish were used to make gefilte fish, but more recently other fish with white flesh such as Nile Perch have been used, and there is a pink variation using salmon. There are even vegetarian variations."

"Ingredients require selecting a fish that is preferably at least 3 kilograms [6.6 lb] in weight. Also required are 1 kilogram [2.2 lb] of brown cooking onions, 200 millilitres [6.8 US fl oz] of vegetable oil [traditionally sunflower oil], salt, pepper, and five eggs."

"The fish is deboned and the flesh mixed with ingredients, including bread crumbs or matza meal, and fried onion. Cooking takes as much as 3 hours."

"Gefilte fish may be slightly sweet or savory. Preparation of gefilte fish with sugar or black pepper is considered an indicator of whether a Jewish community was Galitzianer [with sugar] or Litvak [with pepper], hence the boundary separating northern from southern East Yiddish has been dubbed "the Gefilte Fish Line"."

"This is largely attributed to less availability of fresh fish in the inland areas before refrigeration, with the sugar used to 'mask' the sometimes less-than-fresh taste of the fish"

"The post-WW2 method of making gefilte fish commercially takes the form of patties or balls, or utilizes a wax paper casing around a "log" of ground fish, which is then poached or baked.

"Low-salt, low-carb, low-cholesterol, sugar-free, and kosher varieties are available. The U.S. Patent #3,108,882 "Method for Preparing an Edible Fish Product" for this jelly, which allowed mass-market distribution of gefilte fish, was granted on October 29, 1963 to Monroe Nash. Gefilte fish are also sold frozen in 'logs'."

Gefilte Fish photo at Wikipedia "When this product is sold in cans and glass jars, and packed in jelly made from fish broth sodium is a relatively high 220–290 mg/serving."

From Equal Opportunity Kitchen

Baba's Gefilte Fish Recipe

[A meat grinder is needed for this recipe]
5 lb. pickerel fillets [a combination of carp
pickerel and whitefish]
2 large onions [divided]
4 large carrots [divided]
1 parsnip
4 eggs [rule of thumb is 1 egg per pound of fish
if the fish is filleted skin off]
1/2 cup grated ground almonds [divided]
4 handfuls of matzoh meal [approximately 1 cup]
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups water

In a large stock pot slice 1 large onion and 2 carrots, salt,1/4 c sugar, 6 cups water. Peel 2nd onion and cut roughly to fit meat grinder. Remove skin from fillets [it is suggested to request your fish monger to do this]. Process carrot and parsnip on fine grater or grate with a box grater. Put cleaned fish fillets and 2nd onion through meat grinder. Add carrots, parsnip and onion to fish. Add salt, pepper, eggs and 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix ingredients together - should be loose but hold together. If it feels too loose, add a little matzoh meal to the mix.

At this point you may either form your patties or refrigerate the mix for 30 minutes to let it set. With wet hands, create patties by gently rolling in a circular motion and shape like an egg. Start pot to heat as you're shaping and layering your patties. Very gently lower them into the pot. Be sure not to disturb them until they're cooked and cooled.

Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer, lid on for approximately 2 hours. After the first hour, sprinkle the remaining ground almonds to the pot. To cool, put pot into a sink of cold water - about 1/2 way up the pot. Once the fish is completely cooled, move to a serving platter and refrigerate until time to serve. Yield on 5 lb. of fish is 24 patties. Serve with red horseradish.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || EqualOpportunityKitchen || Image Credit: Wikipedia

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