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Gefilte Fish

I adore gefilte fish, but am too lazy to make it myself. For many years my forte was sourcing the best deli bought varieties, but this recipe, by Shmil Holland of "Shmil at the Lab" restaurant in Jerusalem, tempted me to try my hand at making it from scratch. It turned out perfectly the very first time – light, subtly seasoned and not too fishy. 
Oily flavorful carp is traditionally used for gefilte, but you may also use other white fleshed varieties (such as pike). When buying fish for gefilte ask the fishmonger to fillet the fish and reserve bones, skins and heads in a separate plastic bag.  

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

        For the stock:

  • Bones, skins and heads of the fish used to make the patties

  • 5 carrots, peeled

  • 3 onions, peeled

  • 1 leek stalk (without the leaves)

  • 1 parsley root, peeled

  • 1 celery root, peeled and quartered

  • 8 sprigs thyme (optional)

  • 4 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 6 allspice berries

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 bunch parsley

  • 1 bunch dill

    For the patties: 
    1 kg (2.2 lbs) skinless fillet of carp (or pike or whitefish)

  • 3 tablespoon matzo meal

  • 4 tablespoons finely ground almonds

  • 2 eggs

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground allspice

  • 1 tablespoon salt


photo: Daniel Laila

To prepare the stock: place all ingredients, except parsley and dill, in a large wide pot. Add 4 liters (4 quarts) water and bring to a boil on medium heat. Cover and simmer gently for 50 minutes (skimming occasionally). Add parsley and dill and cook for 10 minutes.


Remove from heat, cool and strain. Reserve the carrots and one onion, and discard the rest of the vegetables.


To prepare the patties: Grind the carp fillets together with the cooked onion and 4 carrots (reserve one for garnish). Transfer to a large bowl.


Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add 2/3 cup of the stock (make sure it’s cold, otherwise the eggs will curdle) and knead thoroughly. Transfer to refrigerator for at least one hour.


Bring the strained stock to a boil. Make one small patty and cook for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.


With wet hands make elliptical patties and slide them into the boiling stock. Cook them on medium heat for half an hour in a partly covered pan. The patties should be in a single layer – if there isn’t enough place in the pan, cook them in two batches. Remove cooked patties with a slotted spoon and transfer to a shallow bowl. Strain the stock twice and store in a separate bowl. Pour some of the stock over the patties. Refrigerate overnight.


To serve: garnish each patty with a slice of cooked carrot and put on a plate. Serve with some jellified stock. 

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