Gefilte Goes Mainstream

Well, it’s official– gefilte fish is going mainstream. A few weeks ago I heard about a new modern-day pushcart in Manhattan called Gefilteria. They call themselves the “Purveyor of Boutique Gefilte,” and they serve up “artisanal” gefilte fish selections that are made from sustainable fish sources. Gefilte is also featured at Kutsher’s Tribeca, a “modern American Jewish bistro” giving Ashkenazi fare a thoroughly modern treatment. A Manhattan extension of the famous Kutsher’s in the Catskills, the Tribeca bistro serves their gefilte fish with micro-greens and parsley vinaigrette. I haven’t had a chance to try either place yet, but next time I’m in New York you can bet I’ll be doing some taste testing.

In my experience, I’ve found that gefilte is one of those dishes you either love or hate– there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. I fall on the side of loving it, but only when it’s really well made. My husband’s mom created a delicious (if time consuming) gefilte fish recipe that is out of this world. A reflection of her husband’s Ashkenazi background and her own Sephardic ancestry, her gefilte is gently seasoned and stuffed into a fillet of fish. I’ve hesitated to blog about it, because I’m just not sure how many people like gefilte. I don’t really like overly sweet gefilte fish, and I’m not a big fan of the stuff in the jars. But a good homemade gefilte is something truly delicious– light, clean, fresh, with just a hint of sweetness. That’s the kind of gefilte I go for.

I’m curious to hear your feedback. Are you a fan of gefilte fish? Is it something you only eat on holidays, or do you enjoy it year-round? Does the site of gefilte make you run in the other direction? What do you think of this “artisanal gefilte fish” trend– is there something to be said for updating a centuries-old food concept? Comment below and let me know what you think!

To read more about the gefilte fish trend, check out these links:

Gefilte Fish Goes Glam: Where to Get Fancy Ground Fish

The Gentrification of Gefilte

Gefilteria: Upscale Fish Without the Fuss

 

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  1. I have always loved gefilte fish, but not all kinds. I like homemade as long as I know there is not even the tiniest bone or scale in it. It doesn’t hurt to not have pike in it. I do prefer it a little sweet. My favorite is actually in the jar. It’s Rokeach Vienna style and it’s perfection, for me. I will eat it throughout the year, but often forget about it unless I happen to notice it in the market. It’s good alone or with white creamy horseradish :)

  2. I love Gefilte fish. I agree with you that people either love it or hate it. I gave not made my own from scratch. Would love to see your mother n’ laws recipe for Gefilte fish. I usually have the Manashevitz in the jar. I have made a “mock” Gelfilte fish using chicken or those who don’t like fish. I used ground chicken, egg, matzo meal, onions, kosher salt & pepper.

  3. My mother was a Holocaust survivor, and she made gefilte fish every Passover (and only at Passover). It seemed to take days, but maybe that was just the house smelling like fish for days. Anyway, it was the most glorious thing. Light but deeply flavored. Getting the gel to “gel” was always a big deal. Would it? Wouldn’t it? There is nothing that comes close to the combination of texture and flavor that she achieved in that gefilte fish.

  4. If you can offer a recipe that would change my mind about gefilte fish, you’ve earned my forever respect and admiration (whichk, actually, you already have). Your mother-in-law’s recipe sounds interesting.

  5. Like Jews of the past, I have incorporated “native” fish into my recipe and make the best gefilte fish ever. I use salmon, steelhead trout, grouper and halibut and people who hate gefilte fish love mine. If it wasn’t so much trouble to make, I would keep it around.

  6. I LOVE gefilte fish, as do my kids (even the picky one). While I will happily eat jarred (I second the Rokeach Vienna, because my grandmother bought it and so it tastes like I am used to), I prefer the frozen loaf that you cook in broth with vegetables. My aunt Rachel made the best homemade gefilte fish in the galaxy. I’ve never tasted anything like it and unfortunately don’t have the recipe. I would love to read your mother-in-law’s. It sounds intriguing.

  7. I don’t like the look or smell of jarred gefilte fish. And the rare times throughout my life that I’ve had the courage to taste it, I was less than impressed. I just can’t get past the gelatiness goo. And to be fair, I’ve never had homemade gefilte fish.

  8. I have never tried “real” gefilte, just my grandma’s “fake” version that was made with chicken (and I had never trusted the stuff in the jars). She had a yiddish name for it but I can’t remember it!

  9. I love gefilte fish and eat it probably 4 times a year. I have no real preference to jar or can and I usually buy whatever is on sale. However, I MUST have horseradish on it! My Mom used to take the canned fish, heat it in the oven and put carrot on top of it. Delicious.

  10. My mom’s gefilte fish was great…she no longer makes it. I remember going to a cousin of her’s that made FALTCHE GEFILTE FISH (false/imitation) from chicken breast when she couldn’t get the traditional carp, white fish, and pike. We love it so much that I’m reduced to cooking the jarred once. I put the gel into a pot with sliced carrots and onions sugar & pepper, cook for approx. 1 hr. add the fish and simmer for approx. 1 hr. We eat it with strong horseradish salad with beets. On Passover I grade my own horseradish and add it to the jarred. But OH! do I long for the HOME MADE stuff.

  11. Hi Tori – I love it! My cousin Geri makes it for our Passover every year. It’s my favorite breakfast the next morning, with fresh made horseradish, matzohs, and black coffee.
    LL

  12. Oh yeah…my Grandma used to make the homemade gefilte fish too! It was FANTASTIC, but the house stunk for days! I don’t mind the jarred version if you re-poach it with carrots and onions. HOWEVER, I have found the most incredible gefilte log from Ungar Foods! It’s easy to prepare, has a bit of a sweetness to it and is divine with horseradish. It’s the only gefilte fish the whole family will eat now! I posted a photo of it on my blog: link to 2.bp.blogspot.com

  13. I also love gefilte fish and always have, year-round, ever since I was little. My favorite jarred GF I discovered some years ago was Manischewitz Premium Gold (or whatever they called it!), but I never see that any more. Many brands of GF have MSG in them, so I avoid them. The Ungar’s one, mentioned above, is also quite good and almost seems like home-made (except not so stinky)!

  14. I’ve made Jane Brody’s GF loaf for 20 years. This year I pulled a new recipe off the web that added minced celery to the loaf. I love my own GF loaf, but I hate the stuff in the jar. I won’t eat it if it is served on a buffet and it is polite to avoid it. I’ve used John Dory, Whitefish, Tilapia and a few other fishes. Everyone – even children – loves the Jane Brody recipe. It is a tad sweet, but not overkill. It is an easy dish to make if you own a food processor. I’ve made up to four loaves at a time for large seders. It is my favorite potluck seder item to bring. Everyone is impressed and it really isn’t that much work with the aid of a Cuisinart.

  15. i make my own gefilte fish for pessach and rosh hashana.once my family tasted the homemade–no way would they eat the jarred stuff

  16. i love the gefilte fish old fashioned style. I make it with the frozen rolls found in 2 stores in phoenix . You can add carrots and onions,celery and black pepper and have a fish soup and old fashioned gefilte fish in less then an hour here and then share it with a coyote. I like it with horseradish

    alan

  17. I love gefilte fish in all versions, but especially the frozen kind. Growing up my mom would make it from scratch for holidays and I always found it too watery, so she gave up putting in all the hard work and would buy the frozen and cook it how we like it, a bit sweet, with lots of sliced onions and carrots on the side, horseradish too.
    Tori, I too married a Sephardi who won’t go anywhere near gefilte fish, let alone look at it, for whom I have coined the term “gefilte-phobia” :) I made it one time since we’ve been married and wait for the opportunity to have it when we’re invited out or go to my parents (who live pretty far away).

  18. Ahhh, gefilte fish. My mom made hers from scratch even into her mid 80s. And yes, the question Elle raised….”will it gel?” was always the big question. As my mom got older, the 60s, I would travel to my folks’ home and spend the day there helping her as she insisted that all be chopped by hand, no food processor, grater or anything else. Then the fish became difficult to find locally as just about nobody besides my mom was making it so she and I would drive an hour and a half from home to a kosher market that would order it for her, then we’d drive back and the chopping and all would begin. She also insisted on whitefish, pike and carp, that she called buffel carp. After the fish was cooking in the pot I would go outside and grate the horseradish which she also insisted be done that way, not bought in any jar.

    It was a special treat, my mom’s gefilte fish, and she would tell the family gathered around her table at Passover or Rosh Hashonah what I would call her “fish story’ about that year’s adventure in procuring the fish.

    The whole thing is a wonderful memory and nobody else’s tastes as good as my mom’s….so I just don’t eat it anymore.

    1. Ahh, yes, the hand grated horseradish. It’s so delicious, but the scent is so strong I can barely handle the grating process– I have super sensitive eyes, and it brings me to tears!

  19. I make gifilte fish every week by taking a frozen loaf removing the paper and baking it in the oven at 375 till it gets brown and a bit crusty on the outside. I have had many sefardic and gifilte fish fobic guests eat it and they love it.

  20. My Mom is 87 and she continues to make gefilte fish for Passover for our family of 43. Each of my five sisters has watched, helped and recorded her making it. She adds less than a tablespoon of matzah meal to the fish, eggs and onions and cooks the balls over the fish bones. All my brothers in law and my dad get together and make fresh horseradish to go with it. Just the root and vinegar and lots of grinding. And the stronger the better. They make a fun day of it. Homemade gefilte fish and homemade horseradish. That’s Passover to me!

  21. horseradish is healthy and its very good to use when you have a cold and a stuffed nose instead of nose drops that cause rebound congestion. combined with chicken soup and gefilte fish its a good virus cure for the common cold. thats what my grandma made me when i was a child

    alan

  22. You nailed it Tori. When I’ve eaten it prepared homemade, mostly by Orthodox women with lots of time and passion for this kind of cookery, I find it delicious, but I can’t abide the store-bought stuff in jars. And I’d generally prefer to skip the gefilte fish for something fresher and more savory- as an Italian Sephardi, the texture and the sweet taste of gefilte fish just skeeze me out. I’m thinking of making an Italian version like the Venetian and Tuscan Jews do- something with tuna fish and savory herbs and olive oil.

  23. Gefilte fish from the jar in the liquid broth. (Not the sweet kind.) At Fresh & Easy Markets, they have it without MSG and sugar. We cook some carrots and onion with the broth from the jar, then let the gefilte simmer there too. After that you can eat it warm from the pot or refridgerate for later. Serve with some of the soft carrots on a lettuce leaf.

  24. I love gefilte fish and we eat it Rosh Hashanah, Pesach and a couple of times a year. My family love my fish. I use all pickerel fillets and it is scrumtious.

  25. My husband and I love gefilte fish, but we really only eat it on Pesach and Rosh HaShanah. I don’t know how to make it, so we only have gefilte on special occasions when we travel to Bnei Brak (we live in Israel) to buy it. Worth every penny too! I would love to know your recipe for gefilte fish! I’ve been waiting for the perfect recipe to come along to try to make it at home.

  26. i wonder if you get the a and b frozen gefilte fish roll in israel thats what i use here and it is also there my friends tell me.
    i dont have the time to do it from scratch my mom would spend hours getting it ready and cooking it it made the apartment smell great- i do the same thing with the frozen logs of gefilte fish. i hate the canned stuff! i think thats what turns people off from gefilte fish

  27. Gefilte fish comes in many varieties, based on the country you are from. The polish version is pretty sweet, and I don’t like it. My mother in law (from Ukraine) made the best one in the world. It was so light and fluffy you were floating in the sky while eating it, and not sweat, but more savory. Unfortunately she is quite old, and is not doing it anymore. Of course, you can’t get the recipe, because it is always, a pinch of that and a little of this, so nothing you can replicate.

    If anyone has a good recipe, I would love to get it.

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