Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

October 4, 2013
Irene Saiger


Whitefish Salad

photo-19We landed in Montreal, a city that neither of us had visited before, and in spite of my many trips to Toronto, clearly this was a very different part of Canada.  As my daughter and I strolled around old town, walking on cobblestone streets, surrounded by French speakers, I couldn’t help but wonder how my parents had felt when they first arrived in Paris just a year or so after the war.
As we explored the various neighborhoods, we enjoyed wonderful meals in small Bistros, every evening trying a different salmon preparation, accompanied by good wine and ending with a fairly rich dessert.  Each morning we left our hotel with a list of coffee shops and bakeries that had come highly recommended.  It soon became clear that those addresses were not needed because the scent of butter-laden pastries just coming out of the oven could be detected blocks away.  Twice in three days, we visited Boulangerie Kouign-Amann where we enjoyed freshly baked croissants, sampling the plain, chocolate, and almond.  Of course we also had to try the pastry that the shop is named after, Kouign-Amann,  similar to a croissant but both top and bottom layers are made of a thin crispy coating of caramelized sugar.
One afternoon we made our way to a local greasy spoon, not a place or an area that I think attracts very many tourists, but we were on a mission to eat a vegetarian version of  Poutine, a common Québécois dish of fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in gravy.
On the morning we planned to have the famous Montreal bagels for breakfast, subject of much debate among people who engage in bagel war conversations, we took the Metro to the area known as Mile End, a neighborhood where waves of immigrants had once settled, Jews among them.  The bagels were smaller than New York bagels and slightly sweet, first boiled and then baked in a wood-fired oven.  As we munched on our warm bagels slathered in cream cheese (sadly there was no whitefish salad)  we passed spice stores, vintage shops, and cafes, and my guess is that new immigrants now settle elsewhere.
We turned a corner and came to an area with a Shul, a kollel, a kosher market and bakery, discovering a community of Belzer Hasidim nestled among the trendy shops.  Suddenly I heard Yiddish, saw sprinkle cookies, looked at faces whose features were clearly Eastern European and once again I imagined  how my parents might have felt wandering around the streets of Paris and suddenly seeing Hasids walking towards them.  No doubt it would have made them smile, and I smiled as well.   The only thing missing was whitefish salad.
Whitefish Salad
1 whole smoked whitefish, about 1 pound.
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 Tb minced shallot
3 Tb mayonnaise
Skin fish and very carefully remove from bones.  Mix with sugar, sesame oil, minced shallot and mayo to taste.  I like my fish flaked and not too mushy.  Serves 2-4.

10 thoughts on “Whitefish Salad

  1. Hi Irene, though i am not so big on white fish, once again, your story pulls me in and makes me wish I was there eating pastries with you and shira. Hug, barbie

  2. What a great trip. The Kouign-Amann looks amazing. I’ve tried making that before and remember that it was rather hard to get right. Did it taste as good as it looks?

    Your whitefish salad sounds much better than the kind you get from the deli counter. Interesting idea to add the sesame oil.

    • I am so impressed that you tried making it, I stay away from complicated desserts and pastries. It was one of the best pastries I ever tasted.

      You can’t really taste the sesame oil but it just makes it a little richer. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Spending time with your favorite daughter, sight seeing, exploring and eating great food sounds like a recipe for an amazing trip. You can always go to a deli or Costco for white fish salad.

  4. Well, now you have totally made me homesick for my special “hometown” foods! I was born in Montreal but raised in Toronto and the two cities are VERY different. Montreal is where I’d always get away to as a teenager, for the food but also for the authentic old-world ambience. Enjoy!

    • Sorry!!! My husband is from Toronto and this felt so different. The food was pretty amazing and the whole city felt very European. Next time I want to visit Quebec City.

      Thanks for commenting!!

  5. Ok do I really need to see the entire fish sitting on the cutting board ? really. Sounds easy however pico deli or factors is such wonderful easy places….

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