Chag sameach, everyone! It’s the first night of Passover, and I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a year. Time to let this one out into the world.
I am one of the only people I know who genuinely likes gefilte fish. Yes, even the gelatinous gray pucks from the Manischewitz jar. To me, it’s one of the core tastes of Passover. But the premade gefilte fish I grew up on contains onions, which I am avoiding. So last year I decided to try my hand at a homemade version, flecked with scallions and herbs. It was a wild hit, and is now a permanent fixture on my seder menu. It’s flavorful enough to enjoy on its own, and delicious with a swipe of prepared horseradish if you swing that way.
I adapted this from a recipe by the great doyenne of Jewish American cooking, Joan Nathan. My primary tweaks were to swap scallion tops for onions, to add carrot for sweetness, and to bump up the herbs. Gefilte fish is traditionally cooked in fish stock; this recipe has you make a light vegetable broth instead. But if you have access to fish bones, definitely throw some of those in—they’ll contribute flavor and help the liquid turn into the familiar gel as it cools.
Although I’ve adapted this recipe for my own FODMAP sensitivities, it is not gluten-free, since traditional matzo meal is made with wheat flour. If that’s a no-go for you, your best bet is to buy gluten-free matzo and blitz it to crumbs in the food processor. Be aware that most gluten-free matzo is not kosher for Passover, so seek out the real certified stuff if that matters to you.
Scallion-Herb Gefilte Fish (makes 20 patties)
Adapted from NYT Cooking
Note: In terms of fish, I’ve used a half-and-half mix of salmon (for flavor) and cod (because it’s cheap). Joan Nathan suggests a combo of firm, fatty fish like salmon or striped bass, and lean freshwater fish like trout or the traditional pike/carp/mullet. That said, any mix of fish will work here; just keep in mind that fish must have fins and scales to be considered kosher (so no catfish, for example).
For the gefilte fish:
Green tops from 1 bunch (6-8) scallions, roughly chopped
1/3 packed cup fresh parsley (save the stems for the broth)
1/3 packed cup fresh dill (save the stems for the broth)
2 lb boneless, skinless fish fillets, cut into chunks (see note)
1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
3 large eggs
6 tbsp matzo meal, plus more as needed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the broth:
10 cups water
Green tops from 1 large leek, thoroughly washed
2 carrots, broken in half
2 large celery stalks, broken in half
1 small fennel bulb, roughly chopped
Parsley and dill stems
1 tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt
In the bowl of a food processor, combine scallions, parsley, and dill. Pulse a few times to chop up the herbs. Add fish, carrot, eggs, matzo meal, salt, and pepper, and pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth and holds together when pressed. (You may need to add a bit more matzo meal if the mixture feels too wet.) Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour to firm up.
Meanwhile, combine water, leek tops, carrots, celery, fennel, and herb stems in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a steady simmer. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the broth is flavored to your liking. Strain out the vegetables, then bring the broth back to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Shape the fish mixture into 20 oval patties and lay them out on a plate or baking sheet. Once the broth is simmering, add the salt, then gently lower the fish patties into the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the patties are just cooked through.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the gefilte fish from the broth. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Make ahead: You can make the gefilte fish a day ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container, submerged in broth so they stay moist. Return the gefilte fish to room temperature before serving.