Grandma Eva’s Gefilte Fish
Grandma Eva was the matriarch of our family and a fabulous cook. She was born in Lodz, Poland and came to Seattle in about 1910 via Galveston, Texas. She hosted our family dinners for years, until she was well into her 80s, and was the only one in our family who made the gefilte fish, which is something I love. My mom was about 65 and had no interest in learning how to do it. I realized that if I didn’t learn how to make it, the recipe would die with her and be gone. Grandma Eva was a wonderful cook and this is one of my favorites.
She didn’t have a recipe, it was all in her head. I had to watch closely and count and measure everything that was in it; she did it strictly by texture. The recipe has changed and evolved slightly over the years – I’ve used different amounts of eggs. I don’t add sugar but I think she may have; you can try adding 1tsp sugar per pound of fish, if you want. The recipe is a bit complicated and time consuming, but worth it.
This recipe makes about 8 balls per pound of fish. For the holidays I usually use about 4 pounds of fish.
8 eggs (2-3 per pound of fish)
2 medium yellow (or sweet) onions (½ onion per pound of fish)
4 medium carrots (1 per pound of fish)
¼ cup matzoh meal (or challah bread crumbs)
Salt & white pepper
2 pounds salmon, ground
2 pounds mixed white fish (i.e., cod, lingcod, carp, black cod, sable), ground
Fish stock, for cooking fish balls (fish heads, bones, onion, carrot tops, celery, white pepper, pinch of sugar – simmer 1 hour and strain after cooking)
Divide fish in small batches and mix in a food processor: fish, onions and carrots. Transfer mixture to a mix-master, add eggs, salt, white pepper, matzoh meal, a little ice water, and beat well.
Dip hands in cold water and shape balls. Place in lightly boiling stock and cook uncovered for about 1 hour.
For fish patties, shape raw mixture into patties. Coat in matzoh meal and fry in oil until light brown on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side. Finish by baking patties in a 350˚ oven for about 30 minutes.
- After you mix it, taste a small portion raw and adjust seasonings.
- The balls don’t freeze well, but the patties do – freeze after frying, then thaw before baking.
By Eva Esfeld Deutsch, submitted by Sandra Ostroff
Find this recipe and many others in the Washington State Jewish Historical Society’s locally produced cookbook, “Yesterday’s Mavens, Today’s Foodies.”