If fish were in a popularity contest, herring would win most interesting, anchovies would win funkiest, and salmon would win classiest. Gefilte fish wouldn’t even place.
All this is to say: If you happen to find yourself staring down a jar of the Ashkenazi staple that is lumpy, gray whitefish quenelles and decide to pass, well, I wouldn’t blame you.
This Hanukkah, I thought it was high time gefilte fish underwent a makeover — and turns out, all it needed was a little oil. Freed from the confines of long oval slices, when shaped into balls and flash fried, gefilte fish morphs from bland and watery to crunchy, golden, and puffy — more akin to an irresistible tater tot than to the loathed loaves of my youth.
So, to turn gefilte fish from a boring side to a chic hors d’oeuvre, put down the over-boiled carrots and the jarred stuff. Instead, fry your gefilte fish and serve with aioli (I love the Swiss Thomy brand — it’s the silkiest mayonnaise you’ll ever taste!), then top with paprika, fresh dill, and salty caviar.
It may not be a jar of oil that lasted for eight days, but it’s gefilte fish you’ll actually want to eat. And that’s a Hanukkah miracle of its own.
- 1 loaf gefilte fish, defrosted (I like Raskin’s, which is sold in most kosher groceries)
- vegetable oil, for frying
- fine sea salt
- mayonnaise, paprika, chopped fresh dill, and caviar, for serving
- Roll the defrosted loaf of gefilte fish into small balls, around the size of golf balls.
- Heat 1” oil in a nonstick frying pan and gently drop the balls into the oil. They’ll begin to bubble and, once golden brown, use a fork or spatula to flip them to brown on the other side.
- Remove the fried gefilte fish balls to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with fine sea salt while still hot.
- Serve with mayo on the side and a dusting of paprika, sprinkle of dill, and dab of caviar.