Gefilte Fish from Scratch

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Recipe - Gefilte Fish from Scratch

From the Weston Kitchen


Makes 12 medium-sized fish balls

  • 3 lbs fresh white perch, whole 


  • Other whitefish like pike and carp are classic picks - we chose perch because it's fresh caught in Lake Erie, local for us.
  • We purchased our fish from West Side Market's Dani's Seafood, where we can purchase whole fish, have them fillet it for us, and request the bones and heads in a separate package - and they're happy to do it. We recommend you also purchase your fish from a local fish market. Note that it may be a good idea to order ahead of time.


  • Bones & heads from fish
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 bulb fresh fennel, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 oz Kosher white wine
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns 

Gefilte Fish

  • Meat from the fish (should be about 1 ½ lbs after filleted)
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • Handful curly parsley, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 egg, whisked together
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup matzo (make sure it's labeled kosher for passover) 

1 tablespoon smoked paprika + more for sprinkling (optional - not traditional)* *be sure to purchase Kosher-for-Passover paprika if making this dish for Passover.


Gefilte Fish is a traditional Passover dish of fish "meatballs" in a light fish stock. Making the stock from scratch and grinding your own fresh fish takes this dish from a required tradition to a requested favorite. While this is by no means the traditional version, it can absolutely be made in a way that is Kosher for Passover - be sure to check your ingredients.

  1. Roast the fish bones & heads, onions, carrot, fennel and garlic - drizzled with the olive oil - at 500°F for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Prepare the stock by combining all stock ingredients in a stock pot, bringing to a boil, then simmering for 30 minutes. Taste for fish flavor - continue simmering until the broth is to your liking for fish flavor. Remove the fish heads and bones, then continue to simmer for 3 hours to develop the other flavors.
  2. Use a Meat Grinder with a fine plate to grind the fish, onion, and parsley together. Fish is watery, so there's no need to coarse grind it first, nor to grind it several times. Mix the ground fish with the remaining ingredients. Form the fish mixture into balls. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Once the stock is ready, use a Cone Strainer to strain the stock to a clear broth.
  4. Return to a boil, then gently lower the fish balls into the stock. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Allow to cool, then refrigerate. Serve the gefilte fish balls cold, with sliced carrots atop each fish ball, and a little broth in the bottom of the bowl.
  5. If you so choose, stir the tablespoon of smoked paprika into the broth, add the gefilte fish, then sprinkle with a little paprika on top.

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