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Sole of the holidays
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Sole of the holidays

New/old takes on gefilte fish from the Gefilteria folks.

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Jewish holidays are always made sweeter with gefilte fish, at least as far as we’re both concerned. It’s one of those holiday foods whose presence always elevates the meal, and grounds it in tradition. Since both of our family’s roots are Polish (Jeffrey’s entirely), we make ours with a touch of sugar — in addition to the fillets of the freshest whitefish, onions, eggs, salt and white pepper — which is all the more appropriate for Rosh Hashana, when we look for a sweet New Year. Serve with homemade horseradish — it’s a must. 

HERBED GEFILTE FISH

Note: The whitefish we use here refers to the species Coregonus clupeaformis from the Great Lakes. If you can’t find whitefish, substitute any one of the following: hake, sole, flounder, whiting, tilapia or halibut.

Baked Terrine

Makes 1 small terrine; serves 8 to 10

1 small onion, coarsely chopped
12 oz. whitefish fillet, skin removed, flesh coarsely chopped
1 1/4 Tbsp. vegetable or grapeseed oil
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh watercress (or spinach)
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. sugar
Horseradish relish, store-bought or homemade, for serving

1. If there are any bones left in your fillets, remove the larger ones by hand, but don’t fret about the smaller ones since they’ll be pulverized in the food processor. You can buy your fish pre-ground from a fishmonger (usually a Jewish fishmonger) to ensure all the bones are removed, but try to cook your fish that day since ground fish loses its freshness faster.

2. Place the onion in the bowl of a large food processor and process until finely ground and mostly liquefied. Add the fish fillets to the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients, except for the horseradish. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture is light-colored and evenly textured throughout. Scoop into a bowl and give it an additional stir to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout.

3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8-x-3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and fill the pan with the fish mixture.

Smooth out with a spatula.

4. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The terrine is finished when the corners and ends begin to brown. The loaf will give off some liquid. Cool to room temperature before removing from the pan and slicing.

Serve with horseradish relish.

•••

Poached Gefilte Quenelles

Makes 10 2-oz. quenelles

Heads, bones and tails from a fish (see Note)
4 quarts water
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots
3 Tbsp. sugar
Gefilte terrine mixture from Baked Terrine recipe (see steps 1 and 2)
Horseradish relish, store-bought or homemade, for serving

1. Place the fish parts, salt, onions, carrots, sugar, and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and simmer for at least 45 minutes before poaching the quenelles. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

2. Wet your hands and form the gefilte fish mixture into about 10 quenelles the size of an egg, with a similarly oblong shape. They will expand as they cook.

3. Place them one by one into the poaching liquid. When all the servings are in the pot, make sure the heat is on low and cover the pot. Poach for 30 minutes. Remove the quenelles with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl or deep serving dish. Spoon enough poaching liquid over to cover the quenelles and let cool slightly before refrigerating. The poaching liquid will gel slightly as it chills.

4. To serve, remove the carrots and cut them into 3-inch-thick rounds. Serve the quenelles chilled, with the carrot pieces and fresh horseradish relish. If you’re old-school or adventurous, serve with spoonfuls of the poaching gel alongside.

Note: If poaching, a fishmonger can save the head, bones, and tail for you if he/ she sells you the fillet—just ask. The poaching liquid can be made without these fish parts, but the gefilte quenelles will be slightly less flavorful.

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