Post-modern Gefilte fish (or Gefilte fish in 30 mins)

Yes, you can indeed make delicious gefilte fish in 30 mins.

Yes, there are some shortcuts.

No, this is not your classical gefilte fish, more like the traditional gefilte fish recipe deconstructed.


Gary is famous for his gefilte fish, so notable that my relatives presented his willingness to grind raw fish as exhibit A; proof that he would be an excellent husband. In fact it was not until I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Yoskowitz, the proprietor of the Gefilteria before I was aware of another man who was so passionate about gefilte fish.

But the making of authentic gefilte fish is a laborious process. First off, the designated fish, carp etc has to be special ordered (I remember when I realized that gefilte didn’t refer to a fish species!), the fish heads and bones have to be boiled to make the jellied stock, one has to be fastidious about picking out all the small bones, assembling the special contraption for grinding the fish and so forth.

With all the demands on our time, it is no surprise that making gefilte fish hasn’t happened too frequently. And yet, perish the thought that we would eat the type that comes in jars. So it was that one day I started thinking about how gefilte fish became such a classic and the rationale for using carp. My understanding is that the recipe is generally thought to be the result of enterprising Jewish women developing a Shabbat-friendly dish with a readily available local ingredient; aquaculture being in wide practice in Eastern Europe. I remember my grandpa telling me about how his mother complained at coming to the industrial Britain in the years before his birth in 1905 and how much she missed the farm life in Russia with her beautiful pond.

Today, the most widely available fish is farmed salmon. To stay true to the spirit of gefilte fish in the sense of a dish made with the cheapest available fish I decided to use salmon. I also incorporated a milder white fleshed fish which is traditional for gefilte fish. This was branzini, which happened to be available at Wegmans and they will fillet the fish for you (see my previous post regarding availability of kosher fish in Ithaca).

The features that make this recipe so quick are first the starting point of using fish fillets (no deboning), second using the food processor (makes quick work of chopping), and third eliminating the jellied stock (believe me, you won’t taste a difference). Let’s get to the recipe.

gefilte fish ingredients

Once the ingredients are assembled and the greens washed, the recipe goes super quick.

  1. Before starting prepare a large mixing bowl and a pan of salted boiling water.
  2. Process the dill, onion, green onions, parsley in the food processor until finely chopped. Keep an eye on this, just a few pulses should be sufficient, you don’t want the mixture to turn to paste. Remove from the food processor into the large mixing bowl and combine with the eggs.
  3. Process fish fillets in the food processor. Careful to not over process, you are looking for a minced texture, not mush. I did this in two batches.
  4. Mix the minced fish with the remaining ingredients. Make rounded balls with about one heaped tablespoon of the mixture and drop into the boiling water. Boil for 10-12 mins. The gefilte fish balls increase ~25% in volume during cooking, make sure your pan can accommodate this expansion.

Useful note: This recipe makes a large quantity and these gefilte fish freeze well.

fish dish

For the optimum gefilte fish experience, you cannot beat the authentic accompaniment and I highly recommend home-made chraine. I will go through this recipe in another post but there are no short-cuts to its production, home-made chraine takes longer to prepare than the gefilte fish. But it’s definitely worth it. In the meantime, בתיאבון!



A friend’s mother used to say that she would rather spend money on food than on doctors. She was an old-world mother, but she presaged the American belief in food as medicine. We can somehow fix things with food in this culture, for good and for ill.

I do the lion’s share of cooking in my family, not because we’re very traditional, but because my husband’s repertoire is limited to one item: chicken soup. It’s easier for me to cook and him to clean up than to give him cooking lessons, and stack the dishwasher myself.

I don’t obsess over food, and don’t want to give the impression that I do, but I’ve noticed myself thinking of food less in terms of what we enjoy than what it will do for us: lower my husband’s cholesterol, keep my daughter healthy, be “anti-inflammatory” and keep my prematurely arthritic joints supple for a few more years.

When did I stop enjoying food, and start thinking of it as a pharmacy? Even though I don’t consume a lot of mass media, I can’t help thinking of meat in terms of “pasture raised” or “carbon footprint.” What about BGH in milk? Pesticides on produce? Should I be training my little carnivore to appreciate black bean burgers to prevent heart disease for her 60 years hence?

Would it be irresponsible to put down my “awareness” for a while, and just enjoy a meal?


Wednesday Dinner

Wednesday Dinner at Temple Beth-El

The Family Friendly Fridays and the Wednesday dinners are fantastic. No, really. And a great bargain. Go pay, and come to dinner on Wednesday! Dinner will be a vegan vegetable soup (sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chick peas, peppers, onions, celery, carrots) and spinach feta pie with cut veggies on the side.

Click on the link above to buy a great dinner for your family. Then show up!



Purim – daytime summary and checklist

Here goes:

1) Listening to Megilla reading. Check.

2) Charity Mazon. Check.

3) Mishloach Manot משלוח מנות. Check.

This was very fun as it is the kind of activity that snowballs, we made a package for a couple of friends and then thought, wouldn’t it be fun to make another little package for so-and-so etc and so we ended up with double the number of packages we had intended to make.

As always there were snafus, I had purchased some of those Osem soup mini-croutons so beloved by kids as a snack.

soup croutons

I threw this package into one of the bags. When we got to the house and delivered the Mishloach Manot I was with my youngest child who chose that moment to blurt out that the oldest child had spotted this item in the grocery bag after it came home from Wegmans. Apparently she had felt the need for a snack, had opened up the package and helped herself to a few. So we were at that point making a “gift” of a partially consumed food item. Major major ooops. I was mortified. Very fortunately my friend took it in good humor and I know she must not have been too upset as she proceeded to give me a contact for an event planner (major score here).

4) Festive meal. Check.

The kids had requested brisket. So a fleishig meal it was and what a feast!

For appetizer we had salami, accompanied by sliced kosher pickles (prepared at Limmud the previous week, more on this later), guacamole and sweet potato tortilla chips (on special at Greenstar).


For the main course we had brisket made in the slow cooker*, accompanied by a green lettuce salad and homemade salad dressing (Gary’s special).

We didn’t drink any alcohol although the kids were both quite intrigued with the concept of being drunk, what effect alcohol has on the body, and when and if they should get drunk on Purim. I guess this topic has come up at school, the youngest daughter recounted a story from a friend about being given an alcoholic drink and how it made her face flush.

main course

We rounded out the festivities with delicious ice cream.

pareve icecreamAnd then the 14th Adar 5773 slipped away. Purim was over.

*If anybody is interested in the recipe for the brisket, please leave a message in the comments and I will write it up.