In Yiddish, filter means “stuffed”. As a traditional Passover dish, gefilte fish was a preparation of ground whitefish that was stuffed into a whole fish and baked. Over the years, the dish morphed: the whole fish was eliminated and the whitefish stuffing was shaped into individual ovals and gently cooked in homemade fish broth. Our version brightens up fish dumplings with lemon zest and juice and shortens cooking time by using high quality commercial fish stock. Serve gefilte fish with Beet Horseradish or Horseradish Dill Mayonnaise and a side dish from our Southern Black-Eyed Pea Recipe.
What to buy: Fish stock (also called stock) can be found in the freezer section of most well-stocked grocery stores. You can also ask your fishmonger, as they sometimes make their own stock to buy behind the counter. Avoid canned or canned fish stocks.
This dish was featured as part of our Passover Recipes photo gallery.
- Yield: About 24 gefilte fish (3 inches)
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 2h30
- Asset: 1h30
- 2 pints (8 cups) fish stock
- 1 cup coarsely diced yellow onion (from about 1 medium onion)
- 1/3 cup peeled and roughly diced carrots (about 1/2 medium carrot)
- 1/3 cup parsnip, peeled and roughly diced (from about 1/2 medium parsnip)
- Mixture of 2 1/2 pounds of soft-skinned white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut, pike or grouper
- 1/3 cup matzo flour
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
- Beet Horseradish or Dill-Rafort Mayonnaise, for serving (optional; see recipe introduction)
- Place the fish stock in a large, wide pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and maintain a low simmer.
- Place the onion, carrot and parsnip in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse until vegetables are very finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed, about 1 minute total. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Cut the fish into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Place half in food processor and process until a ball forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer the ball to the bowl with the vegetables and repeat with the remaining fish.
- Sprinkle the fish and vegetable mixture with the matzo flour. Add eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and measured salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix until combined (do not press or overwork). To taste for seasoning, form a small patty and poach it in the fish stock until it is firm and cooked through. Taste the patty and add more salt and pepper to the fish mixture as needed. Repeat the seasoning test if necessary.
- Using wet hands and a 1/4 cup measure, shape fish mixture into 3-inch-long ovals. Place on a baking sheet.
- Carefully place the ovals into the simmering broth. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer until firm and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the ovals from the broth and transfer them to a clean baking sheet to cool.
- Pour broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl, discarding any solids. Let the broth cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, place the cooled gefilte fish in a large container with an airtight lid and refrigerate. When the broth is cold, pour it into the container with the gefilte fish, making sure they are submerged. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- To serve, use a slotted spoon to transfer the gefilte fish from the broth to a serving platter. Serve with beetroot horseradish or horseradish and dill mayonnaise, if using.