This is a classic gefilte fish recipe that even the skeptics will enjoy!
The recipe calls for 2 pounds of fish. Traditionally, a mixture of carp, pike, and whitefish is used. However, it is my conviction that any mild, sweet, white-fleshed fish will work. The relative firmness of the flesh of the fish is not a very important factor. You can use flounder, perch, sole, halibut, cod, tilefish, or even sea bass. Just stay away from “oily” fish like sardines, mackerel, and trout. —Josh Cohen
12 to 14 pieces of gefilte fish
For the reinforced fish stock
water (substitute fish stock for water if your stock is homemade)
large carrot, diced
rib of celery, diced
sprigs fresh thyme
leek (trimmed, cleaned, and sliced into thin slivers)
dry white wine
For the gefilte fish
medium yellow onion, finely diced
reinforced fish stock
fish, boneless and skinless fillets (see author’s note for details)
Make the reinforced fish stock: Add the fish stock and water to a large pot. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, leek, and white wine. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer the stock for 50 minutes, then add the tarragon and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Strain the stock. Please note that the reinforced fish stock can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
Make the gefilte fish: Set a small skillet over medium heat and add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onions and stir regularly until they become soft, sweet, and translucent, approximately 25 minutes. If you see the onions beginning to caramelize, lower the heat—you do not want them to brown. When the onions are done cooking, set them aside until they cool to room temperature.
Add the matzo meal and stock to a large mixing bowl. While the matzo is absorbing the stock, place the fish and the onion in a food processor. Add the white pepper and cayenne. Pulse the fish in the food processor until there are no large pieces of fish visible. Transfer the fish mixture to the bowl with the matzo and stock. Add the egg yolks, salt, and sugar. Use a rubber spatula to thoroughly mix together the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the whipped egg whites into the fish mixture.
Set the reinforced fish stock over high heat. When it begins to boil, turn the heat down so that the stock is gently simmering. Form the fish mixture into oval shapes that are slightly smaller than the size of your fist. You can use a large spoon to help mold the fish mixture into a nice oval shape. Drop the fish into the simmering stock and cook for approximately 25 minutes, until the gefilte fish is fully cooked through. You may need to cook the gefilte fish in batches if it is not possible to fit all the fish in the simmering stock pot at one time. Remove the cooked gefilte fish to a rimmed baking sheet. When the gefilte fish have cooled, store them in the refrigerator. Serve the gefilte fish cold with your favorite horseradish condiment, and garnish with your favorite spring ingredients (I like to use pea shoots and radishes).
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I'm perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer's market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta.