Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

June 14, 2012
Irene Saiger


Stella’s Curry Sauce for Fish Cakes

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.


Fish Cakes

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.



11 thoughts on “Stella’s Curry Sauce for Fish Cakes

  1. We had the fish poached, adding the heads and the bones provided the marrow to have gelatin, which when added black pepper was a treat. Have never tried fried. Maybe instead of curry some kind of salsa.

  2. sound great but 2 cups of viegar isnt a little too much? i make fish patty from left over smoke fish and it always delicus, i have to try your curry sauce next time, thank u

  3. I’m so excited about my trip I did not edit my comment – pardon the spelling and I left out that my friend from England -her grandmother did the same.

  4. My mother and Aunt made the best gefilte – as a result I cannot even look at the jarred or frozen kind – After she mixed up the raw fish she would fry patties and then cook them in the broth that she had put in onions fish heads etc. Just recently I met a woman from England who said her mother and grandmother did.
    Shabbaat Shalom
    Next Friday I will be in Israel for Shabbat !!!

    • Hi Mollie,

      That’s so interesting that she fried her fish first? I guess it is something that was part of all in the countries that were part of the U.K. My mother just formed oval balls and poached them, with the heads as well. The broth would become gelatinous and served alongside the fish. It was called “yoichP. Have a safe trip and a wonderful time! I love it there.

      Thanks so much for e-mailing!


  5. now this is interesting but I would have to make it prior to the holiday and give the family a chance to adjust to something different for holiday…. so we will see but this is a go for the summer even over fish for a dinner…… very interesting………….

  6. Irene: I cannot believe that you are writing about Rosh Hashana in June. The story was wonderful but now I have total anxiety about getting ready for the holidays ALREADY!!

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