Until about 6 years ago, I turned my nose up at gefilte fish. I was repulsed by the anemic white snowballs masquerading as fish that came out of jars quivering with gelatinized stock. It was easy to say no to that course.
And then my mom brought home a piece of fish terrine - gefilte fish terrine - from a deli in Brookline that was bringing it in from a Russian deli in Brooklyn. It was a small piece of heaven. I was, at last, hooked.
Of course, I didn't go from terrine to jar after I finally learned to love the gefilte fish. I had to make my own.
The first few times I followed recipes. It worked. People liked the results. Then I started to improvise. Not a lot, but enough to make the recipe my own.
Let's get this out in the open: I hate raw onions. Not only do I hate raw onions, I hate onions that are still slightly crisp. They make me shudder. And cry. Traditional gefilte fish recipes use raw onions in the mix, and I simply can't take the risk that there may be some give when I sink my teeth into it.
That said, this isn't a traditional version of gefilte fish at all.I also have an aversion to lake fish (pike, carp and the like), from which gefilte fish is traditionally made. So I found a recipe online about 5 years ago called "Alaskan Halibut and Salmon Gefilte Fish Terrine" and improvised around it. I've changed everything about it except for the ratios of fish to onions and carrots.
Cake and Commerce's Gluten-free Gefilte Fish
Makes 10-11 patties
- 3/4 lb Salmon (wild/Pacific only) - pin bones and skin removed
- 3/4 lb Halibut (wild/Pacific) skin removed
- (or substitute 1.5 lbs of your favorite local, sustainable fish)
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- picked leaves of one sprig of thyme
- 2 T sugar
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 t white pepper
- pinch of cayenne
- 3 egg whites
- 1 T potato starch
Saute diced onions in vegetable oil. Cook until soft. Set aside and allow to cool
Make sure small pin bones are removed from salmon. Run your hands over the fillet. If it feels hard and bumpy in places, you will need to remove the pin bones. Since you are cutting up the fish, cut right near the bones and remove them with your fingers (or you can remove them with a tweezer). Keep cool!
Place fish, lemon juice and zest, thyme leaves, sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne in bowl of food processor and pulse 15 times.
Remove half of the mixture and place in medium sized bowl. Add to remaining fish in bowl of processor the egg whites, lemon zest and lemon juice, potato starch and onions and run continuously until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 20 seconds.
Add mixture to medium sized bowl with rest of mixture and mix with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes, or until consistent and a little sticky.
Form into palm sized patties and poach for 10-14 minutes in seasoned fish stock, below.
Serve cool, topped with onions and carrots from stock. Enjoy alone or with fresh horseradish.
Fish Stock for Passover
Makes about 1-1/2 gallons of stock, which freezes well
- 5 lbs fish bones from a non-oily fish (halibut, other white fish etc)
- 2 Onions
- 2 Carrots
- 2 Stalks Celery
- stems from 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 t peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 sprig thyme
- 3 cloves garlic
- Water to cover
- (Optional - 1 C White Wine, kosher for Passover)
Combine all of the above ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain and reserve (you will have extra, so freeze what you do not use). I left out white wine in this recipe out, although you can add kosher for Passover wine, which I did not have on hand. If you choose to use white wine, add about 1 cup to the above recipe.
At this point you can put the stock away OR, if you are ready to poach your gefilte fish, make:
Seasoned Fish Stock for Gefilte Fish
- 8 Cups Fish stock for Passover, above
- 2 whole onions, cut into rounds about 1/3" thick (as if for onion rings)
- 5 carrots, cut on the bias - diagonally - into disks about 1/4" thick
- 2 T sugar
- 2 t salt
- juice of one lemon
Combine all ingredients. Simmer until onions are soft. Reduce heat just below simmer. Add in patties one at a time. After 10-13 minutes, remove form heat. Place gefilte fish patties in tall container and pour stock and onions over it to cover. Cool for about an hour and place in refrigerator with a lid, making sure all gefilte fish is below the surface of the stock. Serve chilled.