Yesterday my son-in-law Jesse (www.jessehertzberg.com) posted about my new blog. He also mentioned that he is “the world’s most enthusiastic lover of gefilte fish.” Sorry to say he’s never tasted my gefilte fish. For one thing, his wife, my daughter Gillian, is horribly allergic to fin fish. Second, the process of making gefilte fish is too painstaking and time-consuming.
How do I know? Many years ago, when I was fishing around (pun intended) in the food business to figure out where I wanted to stake a claim, I did some catering. A client wanted gefilte fish for one of the Jewish holidays.
Try to find carp in Fairfield county, Connecticut!
I wanted authentic gefilte fish. To me that meant carp, pike and whitefish. Off I went to Riverdale in the Bronx, where of course, a couple of fish stores had what was needed.
I minced the fish by hand. Food processed fish is too pasty.
I mixed that together with all the other ingredients and made stock with the bones and skin.
I shaped the mixture into small ovals and poached them to perfection in the stock.
If you go to a supermarket to buy gefilte fish, you’ll find them in jars, though some places have the homemade kind. Either way, what you see are overly large, grayish-beige pieces that aren’t at all appetizing. It’s no wonder that people who have never tasted gefilte fish grimace when you suggest that the stuff might actually taste good.
I wanted mine to look lovely. To be the Jewish equivalent that would look, smell and sound as enticing as the luxurious and legendary French Quenelles with Nantua Sauce.
I decorated each oval with a small tulip design carved from carrots and scallion greens. To hold the flowers in place I brushed them with strained, thickened fish stock.
They were gorgeous. They were tender, delicate and sumptuous. A wonder on the palate.
They had taken about 8 hours to prepare.
That was the first and last time for me. I now buy gefilte fish at Geshmake Fish on 236th Street in Riverdale. They sell it in a roll, not individual portions. It’s not homemade but it is quite good and only takes a 10 minute detour on my way home from New York City to my home in Connecticut.