Food Investigator: Fish You Won’t Want to Passover

The typical seder spread — with matzoh ball soup, tender brisket, and chocolate macaroons — is nothing short of delicious. But gefilte fish, a Passover staple, doesn’t have the best rep. It looks odd and smells funky, and no one really knows just what it’s made from. So we caught up with David Einhorn, owner of Seafood Unlimited and proud inheritor of his grandmother Sadie’s 100-year-old recipe, to get the scoop.

What exactly is gefilte fish?
It’s basically a mixture of seasoned and ground fish that is poached.

Sounds harmless. Why does it have such a bad rep?
Most people eat the stuff that is out of the jar, which is not as good as freshly made fish. There really are not that many places making gefilte fish from scratch anymore. Most places that sell it either sell it right out of the jar or take it out and doctor it up a little bit. Ours is ground fresh and poached fresh. There’s nothing processed or packaged about it.

What’s the difference in between yours and store-bought?
Typically grocery stores carry mostly carp, or all carp. In our case, we use a mixture of pike, whitefish, and carp. We get the fish brought in specially from the Great Lakes. They come from colder water, which makes them tastier.

What’s the preparation like?
It’s a 24-hour process. We start by simmering carrots, onions, celery, fish bones, and heads overnight to make a stock. Then we poach it in the stock for about two hours.

You inherited the recipe from your grandmother — did she also show you how to cook it?
I made it a couple of years with my grandmother when I first had the business. She was in her early 90s at that point and wasn’t able to stand up for two, three hours to do it, so she asked me to help her. Now this is my 21st year making gefilte fish.

270 South Street; 215-732-3663. To try Seafood Unlimited’s gefilte fish ($3.75 per piece), call to place an order for pick up or dine in.

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