Who stole my gefilte fish?

OK, I’m fairly new at this blogging business, so maybe it was my fault that I over-wrote a Korean Bulgogi post over the one for Gefilte Fish, but now both are gone, so let me refresh those thoughts and repost.

The very words ‘gefilte fish’ are often cringe-worthy.  And justifiably so, if one considers the immediate association with those beige oval sponges floating in gelatinous goo with names like “Mother’s” and “Mrs. Adler’s”.  Mother and Mrs. Adler – and their competitors in the business of producing ersatz gefilte fish – should retire those obscene items from production.  The homemade version, vanishing from the landscape as our elders also vanish from this earth, was, when done right, quite delicious – slightly sweet and slightly savory, somewhat firm to the bite, able to stand up to the nuclear blast of home-grated horseradish with impunity.  And yet, the words ‘gefilte fish’ were still off-putting.  The item needs a rebranding!  Just as prunes are now rebranded as dried plums, we need to rebrand these as fish dumplings or quenelles.  There!  Doesn’t that sound much more elegant and appetizing?  And yet, it’s essentially the same thing – ground fish, bound together with eggs, flour, seasonings, and simmered in broth.  See?  images

Over my years of Passover-hosting, I’ve played with newish Jewish variations on the theme – Tunisian Fish Cakes and Fish Dumplings Steamed in Cabbage Leaves. They tasted good, but were not the crowd sell-out at our table that I’d hoped for.  And then, from the pages of the NY Times Passover Cookbook, and a few tips from Epicurious recipe posts, I hit the market with these little beauties.  They make a lovely first course, plated on a bed of greens with Lemon Horseradish Sauce and a dollop of Beet Tartare (recipes to follow.  You don’t need to be Jewish to love these, and it needn’t be Passover, either, to make them:

INDIVIDUAL SALMON, COD, AND SMOKED TROUT TERRINES

INGREDIENTS:

1 tsp margarine to lightly grease a non-stick 12-muffin tin

1/2 lb cod fillet

1/2 pound skinless salmon fillet

1/2 pound smoked trout (Duck Trap brand available at Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods)

1-1/2 tbsp canola oil

2 large sweet onions diced (about 3 cups)

2 extra large eggs

1 cup cold water

3 tbsp matzoh meal (if you can’t find it, grind some matzo into crumbs in your blender or food processor)

1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp snipped fresh dill

1 large carrot peeled and grated

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease the muffin tin with margarine.

Saute the onions in oil until soft and transparent, and let cool.

Cut the fish into large chunks and pulse about 20 times in food processor to grind fine, but do not puree. Place in bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the onions, eggs, 1 cup water, matzoh meal, salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice. Beat at medium speed with paddle attachment for 8-10 minutes. Add the dill and grated carrot and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins – there should be just enough to completely fill all 12 to the top. Smooth the tops with a spatula and cover with aluminum foil.  There’s a Reynold’s alumnimum pan-lining product with a non-stick surface on one side – use that if you can find it.

Place the muffin tin on a rimmed baking sheet, pour hot water in the baking sheet to about 1/4″, bake for 45 minutes. Then remove foil and bake another 30 minutes, until tops are just beginning to lightly brown. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, gently remove them to a platter and let cool a bit longer before covering with plastic wrap.

Chill several hours or overnight before serving.

Serve on a bed of greens with traditional horseradish or Lemon Horseradish Sauce and a bright dollop of Beet Tartare.

LEMON HORSERADISH SAUCE

2 garlic gloves minced, 1/4 cup prepared white horseradish (Helluva Good is the hottest), 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 1 cup Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise.  Stir all together in a serving bowl and chill.  Drape over the portion of fish, or in a dollop on the greens.

BEET TARTARE

(adapted from the NT Times passover Cookbook)

1 pkg Trader Joe’s steamed and peeled baby beets (or other store brand, but NOT canned)  finely diced; 1 small shallot finely minced; 2 tbsp finely chopped cornishons or other vinegard pickles; 1tbsp light mayo; 1 tsp white prepared horseradish; 2tbps minced Italian parsley, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar; 1/2 tsp sugar; S&P to taste.  Just combine all and serve a dollop alongside each portion of fish.

Sorry, no pictures of the finished product, but will add them for Passover in a few weeks.

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