Gefilte fish -- but not from a jar

March 24, 2010 9:42:48 AM PDT
Passover, which begins next Tuesday, often includes traditional foods. Gefilte fish is not one of the Hungry Hound's favorites, but he's trying it out.

The name gefilte fish comes from the Yiddish word "to stuff." Since in the old days, this mixture of ground fish, matzo meal and eggs was stuffed back into the skin before cooking. It's usually served at the Passover Seder - a sacred meal - along with matzo ball soup and brisket.

ABC7's Hungry Hound said he never, ever liked when he was growing up because it usually came from a jar. So this year, he's attempting to broaden his horizons and finally accept this traditional delicacy.

Forced to eat it during Passover, the ground mixture of fish, eggs and matzo meal was worse than having cavities filled, according to the Hungry Hound. This year, he's starting at the Goddess and Grocer, which has three locations in the city. They have it on their Passover catering menu, which is loaded with traditional favorites like tzimmes and sweet coconut macaroons.

Their gefilte fish is a combination of ground pike and whitefish, cooked in fish stock, then cooled, so the natural gelatin keeps it all together. They serve a little fresh horseradish infused with beets on the side. Yes, it's fishy, but it also has a nice texture - not too puree - and the fresh horseradish gives it a good little jolt.

The Hound next makes his way over to Fox & Obel in River East, which has its own Passover catering menu, complete with tzimmes and noodle kugel. They use only whitefish - combining it with eggs, matzo meal and sugar - giving it a few pulses in the food processor to incorporate everything.

"The sweetness is a little better. Tend to stay away from mackerel and herring, the favors are a little big. Whitefish we just found to be a little sweeter," said Corey Grupe, the chef at Fox & Obel.

It's formed into quenelles then cooked in fish stock for about 30 minutes.

"We poach it in fish stock with the bones and form it up and out it goes. It gels, it's cold and it's ready to go," Grupe said.

When it cools, it's served with beet-infused horseradish for a lively note of heat. After more than a little trepidation, I give it a try. It's pretty good. Certainly a lot better than the stuff in a jar I grew up with.

"It's much better to get the real thing than to get it out of a jar," said Grupe.

And, no surprise here-- but you can also find gefilte fish at north suburban icons Foodstuffs and Sunset Foods.

Fox & Obel
401 E. Illinois St.

Goddess & Grocer
25 E. Delaware St.


Foodstuffs (several locations)
2106 Central St.

338 Park Ave.

1456 Waukegan Rd.

255 Westminster Rd.
Lake Forest

Sunset Foods
825 S. Waukegan Rd.
Lake Forest

1127 Church St.

1451 W. Peterson

1812 Green Bay Rd.
Highland Park