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Not Your Bubbe’s Modern Gefilte Fish Fillet

Gefilte fish is one of those dishes that makes everyone smile. It doesn’t matter if you’re a jelly person, put a carrot on your fish like a yarmulke, or open your sinuses with a big dose of horseradish covered fish because we, as a nation, stand united around gefilte fish.

But the amount of labor that goes into the dish makes it hard for most home cooks to serve it to their families even if they’d like to. I’ve only made homemade gefilte fish a couple of times, and let me tell you, I had to dedicate the better part of my day, and soul, to doing it. Often, people settle for frozen or jarred gefilte fish, which is nothing like the real thing. That’s where this recipe comes in; it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s not as easy as screwing off the top of a jar, but not quite as difficult as grinding fish yourself.

The dish’s name gefilte hints at its Eastern European roots, and means stuffed in Yiddish. Originally gefilte fish was used to “restuff” the fish with its ground meat, and cooked in its skin. Later on, after realizing that the “fish burger” stood on its own, bubbes served the fish skin to the dogs and kept delicious gefilte fish for their loved ones.

For me, gefilte fish is a part of our modern history too. I grew up on my grandfather’s stories of floating paper boats in his bathtub and playing with a gigantic fish that always disappeared right before the seder. It takes a certain something to be able to look your dinner in the eye, and then grind it up. It’s that certain something that makes many of us settle for defrosting our gefilte fish instead of looking at our bubbe’s old recipe.

That’s why this recipe comes in handy. I won’t say that it’s a very simple recipe but there are enough breaks along the way to allow you to prepare the rest of the meal without a hassle. With your seder menu still in flux, this could be an exciting alternative to really liven it up. Its strong blend of flavors displays the modern era of Jewish cuisine and how far we’ve come from sailing paper ships in our bathtub as dinner swims by.

Not Your Bubbe’s Gefilte Fish Fillet (Dairy, but can be prepared pareve)
Serves about 6

For the Marinade:
1 1\2 cups whole milk (for a pareve alternative use coconut milk)
4 garlic cloves
1\2 cup orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp lime juice

8 fillets white fish

For the Crust:
3\4 cup roasted walnuts
1\3 cup loosely packed chopped mint
1\2 tsp salt
1\4 tsp white pepper
1\2 cup matzo meal

For the Spicy Beet Salad:
2 medium beets roasted and cut into thin slices
1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
1\2 cup of Greek yogurt or thick plain yogurt (for a pareve alternative use soy yogurt)
1\2 tsp salt
3\4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp fresh ginger crushed in a garlic press or through a zester
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp of fresh coriander chopped and packed


1. Before you do anything, roast your beets.

2. In a large baking dish combine your marinade ingredients and mix. Add the fish filets and cover. Place in the in fridge for at least 45 minutes so the filets can properly marinate. Flip the fillets and marinate for another 45 minutes.

3. When your fish is almost done marinating, start preparing your fish’s crust by combining the ingredients into a blender and blend until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.

4. Take your fish out of the refrigerator and remove the marinade, reserving 1 ½ tablespoons for the crust. Combine the bit of marinade with your crust ingredients, creating a paste-like texture.

5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

6. Coat the top of each fillet with the crust coating and cook your fish, uncovered, for 12-18 minutes depending on the thickness.

7. While the fish cooks, prepare your salad by mixing the salad dressing ingredients, except coriander, together in a small container. But be sure not to dress your salad or mix your salad ingredients together until the last minute in order to prevent the beets from turning everything pink.

8. Arrange the beets flat on a large plate, and when you are prepared to serve, sprinkle the onions across them.Dollop spoonfuls of dressing on to your salad and sprinkle the fresh coriander on top.

9. Serve your fish warm with the beet salad on the side.

Also try:

Not Your Bubbe’s Kosher for Passover Flourless Cake

Not Your Bubbe’s Egg Salad Frittata

Not Your Bubbe’s Purim Poppy Seed Scones

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