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Gefilte Fish


3.5-4lb’s Carp, Whitefish, and Pike, filleted and ground

Cold water To just cover

Salt To taste

1 Onions, peeled

1 medium carrot, peeled

2 Teaspoons sugar or to taste

1 small parsnip, chopped (optional)

3 to 4 large eggs

Freshly ground pepper to taste 1/2 cup cold water (approximately)

1/3 cup matzah meal (approximately)


  1. Place the reserved bones, skin, and fish heads in a wide, very large saucepan with a cover. Add the water and 2 teaspoons of the salt and bring to a boil. Remove the foam that accumulates.
  2. Slice 1 onion in rounds and add along with 3 of the carrots. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes while the fish mixture is being prepared.
  3. Place the ground fish in a bowl. In a food processor finely chop the remaining onions, the remaining carrot, and the parsnip; or mince them by hand. Add the chopped vegetables to the ground fish.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, the remaining teaspoon of salt, pepper, and the cold water, and mix thoroughly. Stir in enough matzah meal to make a light, soft mixture into oval shapes, about 3 inches long. Take the last fish head and stuff the cavity with the ground fish mixture.
  5. Remove from the saucepan the onions, skins, head, and bones and return the stock to a simmer. Gently place the fish patties in the simmering fish stock. Cover loosely and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste the liquid while the fish is cooking and add seasoning to taste. Shake the pot periodically so the fish patties won’t stick. When gefilte fish is cooked, remove from the water and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Using a slotted spoon carefully remove the gefilte fish and arrange on a platter. Strain some of the stock over the fish, saving the rest in a bowl.
  7. Slice the cooked carrots into rounds cut on a diagonal about 1/4 inch thick. Place a carrot round on top of each gefilte fish patty. Put the fish head in the center and decorate the eyes with carrots. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with a sprig of parsley and horseradish.


A few years ago, an Israeli politician had problems with the filter in his fish pond and a few of them got rather stuck and mangled. His son (5 years old at the time) looked at them and asked ‘Is that why we call it ‘Ge-filtered Fish’?’ Originally, it was a carp stuffed with a minced fish and vegetable mixture. Today it usually comprises of small fish balls eaten with horseradish (‘chrain’) which is judged on its relative strength in bringing tears to your eyes at 100 paces. Gefilte fish is one of those recipes where touch and taste are essential ingredients. A basic recipe goes this way:”You put in this and add that.” If you don’t want to taste the raw fish, add a bit more seasoning than you normally would. What makes this recipe Galicianer (southern Polish) is the addition of sugar. For some reason the farther south in Poland, the more sugar would be added. A Lithuanian Jew would never sweeten with sugar but might add beets to the stock. I have added ground carrot and parsnip to the fish, something that is done in the Ukraine, because I like the slightly sweet taste and rougher texture. If you want a darker broth, do not peel the onions and leave them whole.


As a dish of homemade origin, gefilte fish preparation varies widely by locality, ethnicity, and from cook to cook, even among commercial varieties. The paste may be so finely ground as to form a dense patty of almost cheese like texture, or may be as coarse as a traditional poultry stuffing.Gefilte fish can be either sweet (generally among Jews of German, Austro-Hungarian and Polish descent) or seasoned with salt and pepper (common among Jews of Russian and Ukrainian descent). Traditionally, locally cheap fish such as carp, pike, or whitefish were used to make gefilte fish, but more recently other fish with white flesh have been used, and there is even a pink variation using salmon. Especially in commercial varieties, traditionalists may prefer gefilte fish with a high content of the more richly (and “fishy”) flavored carp, an inexpensive and prolific fresh-water fish closely related to the Japanese koi and common goldfish. However, those who prefer a milder taste, even to the point of blandness, look for preparations high in pike and whitefish, with little or no carp. One impetus for the rise of popularity of gefilte fish was its ease of consumption on the Sabbath. Jewish law dictates that removing bones from fish falls under “separating” (borer), one of the 39 forbidden activities on the Sabbath. Ground and bone-free fish removes this problem. This makes gefilte fish a common starter for one of the three traditional Sabbath meals.

Nutritional Analysis:

Works Cited

“Calories in Gefilte Fish.” Calorie Count. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..

“Classic Gefilte Fish.” Epicurious. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Classic-Gefilte-Fish-40014&gt;.

“Gefilte Fish.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..

Jewish Cooking.” Web. 23 Feb. 2012..

“What Are Gefilte Fish.” Jewish  Recipes. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..


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