Gefilte Fish

Gefilte Fish is a dish made from a poached seasoned ground fish and served as an appetizer in Ashkenazi Jewish households, most traditionally during Passover. This recipe starts with a whole whitefish, turning the fillets into flavorful gefilte fish, and the trimmings into stock. You can find whole whitefish at some supermarkets and delis, and can ask your fishmonger to grind the fish for you at the store—just make sure to ask them to reserve the bones, head, skin, etc. for making stock.

Gefilte Fish
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Active Time:
2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs 15 mins


  • 1 (5- to 5 1/2-pound) whole whitefish, filleted and skinned (reserve head, bones, skin, and trimmings for stock)

  • 4 quarts water

  • 3 medium-size (8 ounces each) yellow onions, quartered, divided

  • 4 medium (9 ounces total) carrots, quartered crosswise (16 pieces total), divided

  • 3 medium (3 ounce total) celery stalks, halved crosswise

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, stems reserved, divided

  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon  black peppercorns

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • .3333 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) matzo meal

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh chives, plus more for garnish

  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus dill fronds for garnish

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Beet horseradish (optional)


  1. Cut fillets into 2-inch pieces. Attach a metal food grinder attachment with coarse grinding plate (8-millimeter) to a stand mixer. Position mixer bowl under attachment. Set mixer speed to medium-low, and grind fish. (Alternatively, pulse fish in a food processor, working in small batches, until finely chopped, about 8 pulses.) Cover ground fish in mixer bowl, and refrigerate while making the stock.

  2. Place reserved whitefish head, bones, skin, and trimmings in a large stockpot. Add water, 2 of the quartered onions, half of the carrots, ½ cup of the parsley leaves and all of the stems, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Bring to a gentle boil over medium. Reduce heat to low and simmer until stock is reduced by half, skimming surface occasionally to remove and discard impurities, about 1 hour. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Carefully pour fish stock through strainer into bowl; discard solids. Transfer stock to a 12-inch straight-sided skillet; season to taste with salt.

  3. While stock is simmering, place 4 of the carrot pieces, remaining 1 quartered onion, and remaining 1/2 cup parsley leaves in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add pulsed onion mixture, eggs, matzo meal, sliced chives, chopped dill, and salt to the ground fish; stir together using your hands until mixture comes together and is well combined. Divide mixture evenly into 12 (4-ounce) balls; shape into oval patties about 4 inches long and 11/2 to 2 inches thick. Place patties on a plate, and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  4. Add remaining 4 carrot pieces to strained fish stock in skillet. Bring to a simmer over low and adjust heat to maintain a temperature of 180°F. Working in about 3 batches, add fish patties to simmering stock and simmer, gently turning patties occasionally to ensure they don't stick to bottom of skillet, until patties are cooked through and a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of patties registers 140°F, about 15 minutes per batch. Transfer cooked patties to a plate.

  5. Remove carrot pieces from skillet; let stand until cool enough to handle, about 3 minutes. Thinly slice carrot pieces crosswise; add to plate with patties. Cover patties and carrots loosely with plastic wrap, and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.

  6. Top each patty with a few slices of carrot, and garnish with fresh dill fronds and chives. Serve gefilte fish cold with beet horseradish, if desired.

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