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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


While we lived in Europe, my father would sometimes wistfully mention the food that he longed for.
One of those things was gefilte fish.
Which, my mother being an uninspired cook, it was probably a blessing that we did not serve.

And at that time I had not become the food-slut that I am now, and so had no interest in making gefilte fish or reading about it either.

In the mid-seventies my father and I went to Brussels and Paris several times - Brussels because of the fine restaurants and wonderful drinking establishments (Belgians have no religion except eating and drinking), and Paris for a variety of reasons. Including restaurants in Le Marais, such as Goldenbergs (I think on the Rue Vielle Du Temple?), which had chocolate cake to commit mayhem for, and a number of dishes on the menu that were, to me, unidentifiable, such as 'poisson farci'.

Which my father joyfully recognized as gefilte fish.

When I came to Berkeley in 1978, the gefilte fish situation was as bad as it had been in the Netherlands. So I wrote a friend, and got a recipe. Which, with almost no modifications whatsoever, I post below.

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Benodigd, voor de visballen:
Required, for the fishballs:

Twee pond lichte vis, zowel zee als zoetwater vis.
Two pounds of white fish, both fresh and saltwater.
2 Kleine uien, versnipperd.
2 Small onions, minced very fine.
6 - 7 Eetlepels matzemeel.
6 to 7 Tbs. Matzameal
4 Eieren.
4 Eggs.
1 Eetlepel suiker.
One Tbs. Sugar.
2 Theelepel zout.
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Theelepel peper.
Two Tsp. pepper

Voor de soep:
For the soup:

Vier pond vissenkoppen, graten, en vel.
4 Pounds fishheads, scraps, bones, skin
1 grote peen, geschraapt en gehakt.
A large carrot, cleaned and chopped.
4 stengels selderij, gehakt.
Four stalks of celery, chopped.
2 Kleine uien, gepeld.
Two onions, peeled.


Hak de vis erg fijn. Meng er doorheen: ui, matzemeel, eieren, suiker, zout en peper.
Chop the fish finely. Mix with the minced onion, matzameal, eggs, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Plaats de vismengsel in een kom en laat in de koelkast 1 uur rusten.
Place the fishmixture in a bowl, and let it rest one hour in the fridge.
Doe alle visresten, met peen, selderij, en ui in een kastrol, giet er genoeg water bij dat alles ruwweg 5 cm onder staat. Breng aan de kook en laat 15 minuten zachtjes (niet borrelend) koken.
Place all fishscrap materials, carrot, celery and the two peeled onions in a cauldron, add enough liguid that it stand under by roughly two inches. Raise to boil and simmer (do not allow to roil) for fifteen minutes.
Met vochtige handen ovalen ballen van het vismengsel vormen.
With damp hands form oval balls of the fishmixture.
Plaats de visballen voorzichtig in de hete vloeistof, bedeksel de pan, en laat de visballen 1 uur of ietwat langer sudderen. Lang garen heeft voordelen voor zowel de smaak als de structuur van de visballen. Let op dat de visbalen helemaal bedekt blijven met vloeistof, daar ze veel vocht opnemen. Voeg indien nodig wat (heet) water toe.
Place the fishballs carefully in the hot liquid, cover with the lid, and simmer for an hour or more. Long poaching improves both the taste and the structure of the fishballs. Check to make sure the balls remain inundated - they take up rather much moisture. If necessary add some (hot) water.
Neem de visballen met een spaan uit de pan en leg ze in een soep schaal.
Remove the fishballs with a slotted spoon from the pan, and place in a tureen.
Zeef het kookvocht, en schenk het over de visballen.
Strain the kooking liquid, and pour over the fishballs.
De gefilte fish is, mits bewaard in het kookvocht, ten minste 3 dagen in de koelkast houdbaar.
Gefilte fish, submerged in cooking liquid, can be kept for at least three days in the refrigerator.

Geef er mierikswortel (chrein) bij.
Serve with horseradish.

Het gerecht mag met de gekookte peen (gesneden of gesnipperd) gegarneerd worden.
The dish may be garnished with the cooked carrot (sliced or minced).

Alzook peterselie.
As well as parsley.

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