There’s no yiddishe* dish(e) that sparks more of a visceral reaction in gentiles than gefilte fish.
My Babushka* Zina always made her gefilte fish the old-school way; by boiling the shiitake out of it, and then crowning with a conciliatory mushy carrot. Slathered with chrain*, and wrapped in the glow of her naches* as she watched us devour it, this dish was unmissable every Passover.
Traditionally made with inexpensive and readily accessible white fish such as carp, some recipes also branch out into a pink-fish version (ie salmon), but most stick to the boiling bit pretty vehemently.
That’s why I’m expecting some broigus* with this rendition, because a gefilte ‘fritter’ is kinda cheating… but if there’s anything we’ve learnt from MasterChef Australia, it’s that everything tastes better fried.
Consider this the Gateway to Gefilte: all the flavour of bubba’s fish balls, with the satisfying crunch of fish cakes!
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
700g firm-fleshed white fish (such as monkfish or cod) cubed
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
3/4 bunch chives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fine matzah meal
1 tbsp vegetable/peanut oil (plus extra for frying)
1.5 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp salt flakes
½ tsp ground pepper
Coarse matzah meal for crumbing
Pop onion, chives, oil and eggs together in the food processor, blitz to a smooth puree. Add fish cubes and pulse until combined (pulsing helps keep the texture mildly chunky rather than soupy).
Combine fine matzah meal, sugar, salt and pepper together, then pop into the processor and pulse through the fish mix a couple of times.
Scoop your mix into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour (this can be done the morning of your fish fritter feast, but not the day before, because there’s little worse than second-day-seafood).
When ready to fry, heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on low-medium heat.
Set up your station with a bowl of warm water (to keep your hands from getting too sticky) and your coarse matzah meal on a flat plate. Scoop two tablespoons of mix into your moistened hands, shape into a patty, then coat with matzah meal.
Fry on both sides until golden brown (around 2-3 minutes a side)
Allow to drain on paper towel, sprinkling some salt flakes on top.
Garnish with fresh horseradish (if you have any) or the jarred stuff – my favourite is the beet-horseradish for colour contrast.
Actually, today’s tips are all about the Yiddish I’ve been peppering through this week’s Tasty Tuesday, because having a few of these classic words up your sleeve is as important to master as the recipes themselves.
Yiddishe: this is Yiddish for ‘Jewish’, and is usually used to affectionately to describe people and things – like the classic song popularised by the Barry Sisters, ‘My Yiddishe Momme’.
Dish(e): not a Yiddish word, but I figure that tacking on an “eh” to the end of any word (preferably with an upwards inflection) is to writing, what adding schmaltz is to cooking.
Naches: Yiddish for the warm glow of pride you get from something, most likely from your children, or your children’s children, or your children’s children’s children. Thphu thphu thphu.
Broigus: Yiddish for ‘a bitter dispute’, according to Wikipedia. It usually involves family, and ends in somebody guilting somebody else into doing something they would otherwise not want to do (like put differences aside for Passover Seder… you could call it ‘applying a #gefilte’ for the night).