When the Weiss lived in Israel in the early aughts, the family was invited to many homes and often tasted traditional gefilte fish. During a visit to the Bleiberg family’s home in Bnei Brak, Michi asked for the wonderful recipe originating from Galicia in southeastern Poland, formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since then, the Weiss family has made it a tradition to prepare it. Before living in Israel, they usually ate gefilte fish from a jar, which cannot compare to the real thing. “This homemade gefilte fish is light and flavorful, ” says Michi.
Ingredients for Gefilte Fish
For the Patties:
- 2-3 (14.1 oz/400 grams) onion cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for fyring
- 2.65 oz (75 grams) white bread (or 1 kaiser roll or challah) soaked in water and squeezed out
- 1 (1.76 oz/50 grams) carrot peeled
- 1.5 lbs (700 grams) carp fillet skinless, boneless filets, ground (approximately 4 small)
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup (100 grams) Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons matzo meal
For the Broth:
- 8 oz (225 grams) onions sliced (1-2)
- 2 (110 grams) carrots sliced
- 6 carp steaks, cleaned
- 3 carps (heads, tails, fins, and backbones) free of blood
- ¼ cups (50 grams) Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Prepare the Patties:
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and fry until golden.
2. Soak the roll, challah or white bread in water, and then squeeze out the water as much as possible.
3. Place the ground fish fillets, bread and the carrot in a grinder or a food processor and mince. In total, the fish filets should have been ground twice. Place the mixture in a bowl and add the eggs, sugar, salt, black pepper and matzo meal and mix well.
4. Taste the mixture for seasoning: place a teaspoonful amount of the mixture in the microwave set on high for 30 seconds. This will give you an idea of how the mixture will taste once cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
5. Cover the mixture and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
6. Shape oblong patties or quenelles. If the mixture is too loose, add ½ tablespoon of matzo meal, mix well and let it rest again in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
7. Fill the steaks with the fish mixture.
Prepare the Broth:
8. In a large pot, arrange the onion slices in an even layer. Add the carrot slices, sugar, salt and pepper. Place the fish heads, tails, fins and backbones in an even layer and top with stuffed fish steaks, arranged in an even layer. Add water to cover and bring to a gentle simmer.
9. Carefully place the fish patties or quenelles on top in an even layer.
10. Carefully add boiling water right up to the level of the uppermost fish patties, cover and simmer for up to 2 hours for a traditional jelly texture, or 20-30 minutes, until just cooked, for a more contemporary version. The internal temperature should be at least 160°F (71.1°C).
Cool and Serve:
11. When the gefilte fish is cooked, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove it from the water. Cool for at least 20 minutes.
12. Arrange the gefilte fish in a deep oval platter and pour some of the broth over the fish, saving the rest in a bowl. Place a carrot round on top of each gefilte fish patty and steak.
13. Cover and chill the gefilte fish thoroughly before serving. Serve with sweet beet horseradish relish and a sprig of parsley. Optional: place the fish head in the center of the platter.