Jews and gefilte fish have a complicated relationship. Come Passover and the High Holidays, the oft-maligned fish cakes grace many a family feast. As ovals of seasoned ground fish and matzo meal go down the table, many pass, some cringe, the brave try and a token few ask for seconds.
For those who may not be ready to de-bone their own carp but want to know where their fish comes from, Gefilteria is a modern artisanal company cooking with old school methods and ethical sourcing.
Traditionally a slow-cooked peasant solution to enjoying fish on Shabbat, gefilte fish was once stuffed into the skin of a fish (gefullte is German for “stuffed”). Gefilte later shed its (fish) skin, eventually settling on a jelly sheath. After WWII, the fish balls became a canned and jarred commodity (packed with fish jelly), and today you’d be hard pressed to find an American table serving handmade gefilte.
As the Brooklyn-based trio states in their manifesto, “We know that gefilte… is excellent when done right. It comes down to the basics of quality, freshness, care and creativity. Gefilte is not just about your bubbe. It is not about kitsch or a foodie revolution. Gefilte is about reclaiming our time-honored foods and caring how they taste and how they’re sourced. It is about serving a dish with pride… taking food traditions seriously and reclaiming the glory of Ashkenazi food — what it has been and what it can be.”
Gefilteria looks to Monterey Bay Aquarium to guide their sustainable sourcing. The Kosher-certified, gluten- and jar-free gefilte are pink and white, made with whitefish, pike and salmon (a popular twist on the classic). The whitefish and pike hail from the Great Lakes and the salmon varies by season, but often comes from the Pacific via Wild Edibles.
Any gefilte fan knows that the fish tastes flat without a teaspoon or two of horseradish. Gefilteria’s got you covered there too: Their handmade repertoire includes horseradish, naturally fermented pickles and sauerkraut, pickled beets and kvass, a naturally fermented beet tonic. They recommend their loaf-style gefilte sliced thin and topped with their spicy carrot and sweet beet horseradish.
Gefilteria (literally) carts their wares to local markets and festivals, and occasionally opens a pop-up shop. They accept online orders and will deliver for free to one of their NYC pick up points, or for a fee throughout the city. They also deliver to select areas in Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey, plus the Bronx and Staten Island. See details here.
They’re still taking orders for Yom Kippur, so you can enjoy the new year with gefilte without the guilt… or the “Eh.” In fact, this loaf may not make it all the way down the table.
Image courtesy of Gefilteria.