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Gefilte Fish Recipe

September 9, 2022 | by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller

How to make your own gefilte fish from scratch.

It’s the ultimate Ashkenazi Jewish food most commonly served as a Friday night first course. In fact, Shabbat is the reason why gefilte fish became so popular among Jews. It all started out about a thousand years ago in Germanic lands, when chopping up fish with onions and spices, then stuffing the mixture back into a fish skin, became popular. (Gefilte means “filled” in Yiddish and old German.) Yet the dish caught on with Jews most of all, since gefilte fish is ideally suited to a Shabbat meal. (Today, it’s most often served in a loaf, not stuffed into fish skin!)

For one thing, picking out fish bones from a meal is something that traditional Jews refrain from doing on Shabbat since separating items in that manner is prohibited on Shabbat. Gefilte fish solves the problem; there are no pesky fish bones to remove.

What type of fish is used in gefilte fish?

Gefilte fish can be made of any type of fish. In eastern Europe, a common Jewish profession was raising and selling carp which made its way into many beloved gefilte fish recipes.

What does gefilte fish go with?

The Talmud describes fish as part of the ultimate Shabbat meal. The sage Rav Yehuda is asked how to “delight” in Shabbat. His answer: “With a dish of beets, a large fish, and heads of garlic.” (Talmud Shabbat 118b:2).

That same passage might help to explain why horseradish sauce is such a perfect accompaniment to gefilte fish. Also called chrain, which means horseradish in Yiddish, the Jewish version is sweet and slightly spicy. Horseradish root is grated, then mixed with sweet grated beets. The resulting bright pink condiment can be found in the kosher section of grocery stores, and makes a perfect accompaniment to gefilte fish.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 4 hours
Serves 8


Gefilte Fish

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds fresh ground fish, carp or a mixture of carp, white fish and/or pike

Cooking Sauce for Gefilte Fish

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 carrots, halved
  • 3 onions, halved
  • 1 tablespoon salt & 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • fish bones and heads


  1. In a food processor grind carrots, onion, water, egg, matzo meal, salt, sugar, and pepper. Remove to a bowl and mix with ground fish.
  2. Form the mixture into logs for freezing, approximately 3-inches wide and 12-inches long or individual ovals. If freezing, wrap tightly in parchment paper and then foil and freeze the raw log.
  3. When ready to cook, bring water to a boil with carrots, onions, salt, pepper, sugar, fish bones and heads.
  4. Drop ovals of fish mixture into the broth, you can drop them in fresh or use frozen straight from the freezer.
  5. Cover pot and simmer for 2 hours. Let cool before removing from broth and chilling in fridge.
  6. Serve with Horseradish, a slice of cooked carrot and lettuce if desired.

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