Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gefilte Fishing

On Passover, the youngest child asks the 4 questions. But this year, I found myself stumped by a 5th question: How do you catch a gefilte fish?

As the Fly Fishing Rabbi, I would like to tell you that I have a special blessing to catch this distant Jewish relative of the trout. But sadly in my trips to fish the great gefilte lakes of upstate New York, the wise and elusive gefilte fish has often found a way to elude me.

And so in honor of Passover, let me share a few bits of wisdom about “Gefilte Fishing” adapted from a piece by Lawrence Sherry:

“Many times I have been upset by people who seem to think that gefilte fish is some kind of mixture you make in the kitchen rather than one of God’s creatures. This has led me to explain exactly what a gefilte fish is.

Each year as soon as the frost on the Great Gefilte Lakes (located in upstate New York, somewhere in the Catskill Mountains) is thin enough to break the surface, fly fishers set out to "catch" gefilte fish. Now unlike your normal fish, gefilte fish can not be caught with a rod and a reel or your standard dry flies.

The art of catching gefilte fish was handed down for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. For all I know Moses used to go gefilte fishing in the Red Sea.

So how is it done? You go up to the lake with some matzah. At the edge of the lake, you stand and whistle and say "here boy", "here boy". If you are a Yiddish speaker, you can also say: “here boychick.” The fish just can't resist the smell of the matzah. They come in mass to the edge of the lake where they jump into the jars and are bottled on the spot.

Picture: The Matzah Fly for catching Gefilte Fish... Courtsey of Len, a reader of The Fly Fishing Rabbi

I am still a little bothered by which end of the gefilte fish is the head and which the tail (not to mention that I am not sure where their eyes are). This is a small price to pay the luxury of eating this delicacy.”

To read Lawrence Sherry’s entire article “Gefilte Fishing,” CLICK HERE.

Below please find a recipe for Gefilte Trout, courtesy of Gordon, one of the readers of The Fly Fishing Rabbi. If anyone has ever made Gefilte Trout, let me know how it was!

My best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy Passover.

The Fly Fishing Rabbi,
Eric Eisenkramer

Gefilte Trout!
Courtesy of: Gordon

7 -7 ½ lbs fresh caught trout
(Filleted, with skin, bones, and heads saved)
4 qts. Water
3 t. salt
3 med. Onions
4 med. Carrots
3-4 lg. eggs
(Sugar to taste – (Ugh!) only if your Grandparents were from Poland )
~ /2 C. cold water
~1/3 C Matzah Meal
Salt and Pepper
1. Put bones, skin, and heads in pot with water. More if needed to cover. Bring to boil and skim as necessary.
2. Add 1 onion, 3 carrots and bring back to boil, turn down and simmer ~20 – 30 min while preparing fish.
3. Grind fish, onion, and carrot together
4. Mix fish with salt and pepper, and one egg at a time. Add Matzah meal just to bind (add cod water if you went too far).
5. Form into ovals (football shape if fine)
6. Put into lightly simmering fish stock and cook until done ~20 to 30 min.
7. Take out and let cool. Strain stock and pour over fish. Put in fridge, the stock should gel.
8. Serve cold with horseradish.

Note: Traditionally my Bubbie made it with equal parts Carp, Whitefish, and Pike.
This actually works and more importantly, tastes great.

1 comment:

Freshwater Phil said...

Here is what I've heard from an "old timer" russian Jew alast week regarding Gefilte Fish.

It quite different than what you find in stores, namely the canned variety. According to him, the whole fish was gutted, then had only meat from under the later line removed, leaving the bone structure and skin intact. They then ground the removed flesh with spices, stuffed it back into the cavity of the body and placed it to cook.

That's where the Yiddish term "Gefulte" come in to the piture, meaning "stuffed" or "filled".

I did point out that it's not that good for Shabbos that way, as you you then have to pick at the rest of the fish which are extremely bony (carp and pike Y bone nightmares)...