Contemporary Polish version
The genesis of the name, which in German means stuffed fish, goes back to the time when this was actually a fact. I remember from my childhood the labororious way in which the flesh of the raw fish, usually carp or pike (always a fresh-water fish) was carefully separated from the skin, the bones removed, the flesh minced, the other ingredients added and the resulting mass stuffed back into the skin, carefully stitched together and the resulting fish, still retaining its head, was cooked in a fish kettle, in which vegetables, such as carrots and onions, had already been cooked. When it was removed and placed in a serving dish, the resulting stock, to which the major bones of the spine had been added, was boiled down, strained and poured over the fish, creating a jelly when cooled.
Gefilte fish as used for the fish balls going under that name in the West is a misnomer, as no stuffing is involved.
- 2 lbs minced fish
- 2 eggs
- 1 large onion
- 1 small carrot
- 2 tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper
- A handful of matzo meal (or breadcrumbs)
- Fish stock
- Food processer
- Large mixing bowl
- Fish kettle
- Place the fish in a large bowl and mix in the eggs.
- Mince the onion and carrot (use the food processer) and mix in with some seasoning and the sugar.
- Add the matzo meal and combine well (use your hands for this).
- Shape the mixture into a loaf the length of the available fish kettle.
- Boil it gently in fish stock for 30 minutes. (You can use fish cubes for the stock but homemade stock is preferable.)
- Serve cold.
What you should know
For a party it can be decorated with slices of boiled carrot – which could have been used to make the stock – and slices of cucumber. Fish jelly (made with the stock and gelatine) to pour over is optional.