When I moved to Israel 20 years ago, I suddenly realized there was a factor I hadn't taken into account: Not having my mother's gefilte fish and kreplach! So, on her first visit, I chained her in the kitchen until she filled my freezer with both. Here are a few tips, first: - Whether you go for a sweet fish or peppery, the mixture will need some sugar (even if only a couple teaspoons). If you're leary of tasting the raw mixture, at least taste the stock by the time the cooking is half done. The amount of sugar needed depends on the kind of fish you use Carp, for example, is naturally a sweet fish, so needs less. - Use a pot which is higher than it is wide (like a stock pot), with only a few inches of water in it. The fish release a lot of moisture as they are cooking. The less water used, the better the liquid gels afterwards. - The above necessitates removing the fish fairly quickly after the cooking is completed. If you make only patties, as I do (rather than stuffing slices), this can be tricky, but it's do-able. (Since I use only carp, which tends to be sticky, it can be a challenge, but it yields a delicious product and fish soup which gels firmly.) - White pepper is excellent for gefilte fish, but bear in mind that it is stronger than black. I often use a combination. Bear in mind that the stock will taste much spicier while hot than it will when it's cooled. If you're not generous enough with the salt and pepper, the fish will not be sufficiently seasoned. - Freezing: Yes, you can successfully freeze gefilte fish. The key is to thaw them thoroughly, squeezing out the excess liquid, if necessary. I place the fish in a colander and put that in a pot or bowl to catch the liquid. If you then boil the liquid, it will set up again as a gel. My mother's basic recipe is: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) ground fish 3 or more large onions, ground or finely minced 3 eggs 3 Tablespoons matza meal 2 teaspoons +/- sugar several sliced carrots and a large onion, roughly diced, for the pot The key to preparing this recipe is to mix the mixture extensively, to introduce air for lightness, as you would for a cake. I use a wire whisk. While mixing, set the pot to boil with the sliced carrots, the one chopped onion, salt and pepper in about three inches of water. Form the fish into cakes/patties, layering them on top of one another. Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and simmer slowly for three hours. Yield: About 2 dozen pieces Bruria's Hungarian-style Gefilte Fish ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In addition to the ingredients noted above, my friend fries two or three finely diced onions sprinkled generously with sweet paprika in oil until they are well browned (but not crisp). She then uses another two or three raw onions along with the fried ones. For *true* gefilte fish, you would get a large fish like a carp, cut into slices. Form the filling into a ball and fil l each slice, mounding it up. Some people will have the fishmonger cut the head in half and fill each half, also. The bones and tail also go into the pot, of course, to enrich the stock. Most of my family and friends prepare a combination of filled slices and patties.
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