Fried gefilte fish | Photo credit: Chaya Rappoport
Prep Cook Yield Ready In
5 minutes 15 minutes 4 20 minutes

We Should All Be Frying Our Gefilte Fish

A little oil is all it takes to transform this Ashkenazi staple.

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. 

Photo credit: Chaya Rappoport


  • 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 


  1. Roll the defrosted loaf of gefilte fish into small balls, around the size of golf balls.
  2. 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. 
  3. Remove the fried gefilte fish balls to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with fine sea salt while still hot. 
  4. Serve with mayo on the side and a dusting of paprika, sprinkle of dill, and dab of caviar.

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