In an earlier post I recalled that each year before Rosh Hashana my Mother would buy a carp which was kept alive in the bathtub, destined to be made into Gefilte Fish. For several days I would come home after school anxious to check on the fish and would then spend hours watching it swim back and forth. It was a funny sight, but not an unusual one in the building where we lived. The day before Rosh Hashana my mother would drain the tub, carry the fish into the kitchen, and lay it down on her large wooden board. She would stun the fish with her rolling-pin, and then chop its’ head off. The fish was ground and mixed with eggs, matzoh meal, a little salt, and sugar, yes, lots of sugar.
The first time I went to Toronto, my mother-in-law, Lil, served Gefilte Fish for dinner. I was shocked that the the fish was not in the least bit sweet, and in fact was quite peppery. At Chanukah I discovered that the Saiger family put onions in their Latkes and served them with sour cream and apple sauce. My family preferred them onion-free and generously sprinkled with sugar.
We learned to compromise. I now make Latkes with just a small amount of onion, enough to satisfy Norm’s palate, but not clash with the sugar. As for Gefilte Fish, I don’t think I have ever actually made it, but in recent years we found a version that we both prefer. The recipe is not Russian or Polish, but South African. Both sweet and savory.
To all the fathers who have adapted their tastes for the sake of compromise, Happy Father’s Day. I hope the day turns out to be sweeter than you expect, but not without a hint of spice.
2 frozen Gefilte Fish loaves (sweet variety) thawed. (Mom forgive me)
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil, add more as needed
Combine thawed fish with bread crumbs and form into small patties. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and sauté fish cakes till golden brown. Set aside.
Stella’s Curry Sauce for Fish Cakes (This recipe belonged to Stella’s great-aunt, and was given to her by her Mom)
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 lemon, juiced
1 large apple, coarsely grated
2 Tb Mrs. Ball’s Peach Chutney
2 Tb apricot jelly
3/4 cup sugar
2 Bay Leaves
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tsp whole peppercorns
Salt to taste
Put all ingredients in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil. In the meantime take a small bowl and combine:
2 Tb Curry Powder
1 Tb Corn Starch
Add 1 cup cold water (a little at a time so that it doesn’t get lumpy) to starch mixture and stir till well blended. Slowly pour into sauce on the stove and lower heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 15 minutes. When sauce is cool, pour over fish and refrigerate.