Salmon and Halibut Gefilte Fish

Make elegant gefilte fish by poaching delicate quenelles in a fragrant wine broth
48 Ratings
100% would make again
Gefilte Fish
Photo: Katie Foster/Tasting Table

Too many people are afraid of gefilte fish, but here at TT, we don't know why. The old-school Ashkenazic technique of poaching ground fish in a gelatinous stock of fish bones for preservation has stuck around for generations. While you may be picturing a loaf of gefilte fish garnished with carrots, suspended in fish gelatin (again, still love it), chef Jenn Louis of Lincoln in Portland, Oregon, creates a modern version of the dish, perfect for anyone hesitant to try it. In her recipe, quenelles of ground halibut and salmon are poached in a court bouillon, a flavorful broth of wine and vegetables. All you need is some horseradish on top, and you're set.

This is a dish we encourage you to make the night before. Traditionally, gefilte fish is served chilled, so let it cool and then chill in the broth in which it's cooked. This ensures the gefilte fish will stay moist and absorb the flavors of the court bouillon. Give it a try; we promise you'll love it.

To learn more, read "For the Seder Good."

Salmon and Halibut Gefilte Fish

Recipe adapted from Jenn Louis, Lincoln, Portland, OR

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time

Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time


For the Gefilte Fish:

1½ pounds halibut, skin removed and flesh cut into 1-inch pieces

1½ pounds salmon, skin removed and flesh cut into 1-inch cubes

6 tablespoons matzo meal

6 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

1½ tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons lemon zest

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 eggs, beaten

3 small carrots, grated

1 large yellow onion, grated

For the Poaching Liquid:

12 cups water

1½ cups dry white wine

1½ cups flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1 cup thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds

2 dried bay leaves

2 medium carrots, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

1 yellow onion, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

1 lemon, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

For Assembly:

Dill sprigs, for garnish

Prepared horseradish, for serving


1. Make the gefilte fish: In a food processor, combine the halibut and salmon, and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and carefully fold in the remaining gefilte fish ingredients, being sure not to overmix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the poaching liquid: In a large, wide pot, combine the poaching liquid ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly reduced, 30 minutes. Strain and return to the pot, discarding any solids. Bring the poaching liquid to 180°.

3. Using 2 large spoons, form the fish mixture into 15 quenelles, or torpedo-shaped patties. Poach the gefilte fish in the broth until just cooked through, 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool in the broth, then transfer the pot to the refrigerator to chill completely. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gefilte fish to plates and garnish with dill. Serve with the prepared horseradish on the side.

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