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Gefilte Fish Recipe

Gefilte Fish
Makes: 20 to 30 cakes

This recipe for gefilte fish was given to us by chef-owner Brad Levy of beloved San Francisco restaurant Firefly. Every year during Passover, the restaurant hosts a Seder meal, which always includes these homemade fish patties.

Game plan:
Brad makes the gefilte fish over a two- to three-day period, so plan accordingly.

INGREDIENTS

For the first day:

  • 5 pounds whole white-fleshed fish, such as whitefish, pike, butterfish, or halibut
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

For the second day:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice cubes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Granulated sugar, to taste
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup matzo meal
INSTRUCTIONS
On the first day:

  1. Rinse fish and, if necessary, gut and scale them. Remove all fins, tails, and gills with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors.
  2. Fillet fish, reserving bones and heads. Remove skin from each fillet and reserve it separately. Place fillets in a baking dish or other storage container, cover, and refrigerate.
  3. Place reserved bones, heads, and skin in a large stockpot. Add onion, carrots, and black peppercorns to trimmings, then add enough cold water to just cover ingredients.
  4. Bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce heat to maintain a very low simmer. Cook stock for about 1 1/2 hours, then strain through a very fine mesh sieve into a heatproof container; discard solids. Cool stock to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

On the second day:

  1. Inspect reserved fish fillets to make sure they are clean and trimming free. Remove any pin bones with tweezers or a pair of needle-nose pliers. Slice fish into 1-inch cubes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine fish cubes, raw onion, about 1/4 cup crushed ice (the ice helps keep everything cold and adds moisture to the final product), salt, and sugar.
  3. Pass mixture through the coarse plate of a meat grinder. (Other recipes recommend finely chopping the mixture by hand, which takes much longer.) Divide mixture in half and place one half in the refrigerator.
  4. Working in two batches, place half of remaining ground-fish mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Add another 2 tablespoons of ice, 3 of the egg whites, and a pinch of salt and sugar, and process until mixture is homogeneous. Repeat with remaining ground fish. Stir processed fish back into reserved, refrigerated ground-fish mixture.
  5. Mix in remaining 2 egg whites. Bring a small pot of fish stock to a gentle simmer. To test seasoning, form a small patty of fish mixture and place it in the simmering liquid; cook until firm and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot and taste. If necessary, add more salt and sugar to fish mixture. Mix in matzo meal. Refrigerate mixture for at least one hour or overnight.

On the third day (or later the second day):

  1. Fill a large, wide, shallow pot or saucepan halfway with fish stock. Season stock with salt and sugar to taste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce heat so stock remains at a bare simmer.
  2. With wet hands, begin forming patties and gently place them in the stock. Keep poaching liquid at a simmer, cover pot, and cook until patties are firm and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. As they finish cooking, use a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the patties to a baking sheet, and repeat the process with remaining fish mixture.
  3. When all patties are cooked, strain the stock. Place cooked gefilte fish in a storage container and add enough stock to just cover patties. Allow to cool, then cover the container and refrigerate overnight. Serve gefilte fish with Beet Horseradish.

Note: There is natural gelatin in the fish bones used to make the stock, but if you prefer a firmer gel, you can add some bloomed gelatin to the stock before pouring over the patties.

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.