Gefilte Fish a la Veracruzana
A treasure from the kitchen of my grandmother, Bobe, who immigrated to Mexico from Poland, this fish beautifully combines traditional gefilte fish with the flavors of Mexico, borrowing a popular red sauce from the Mexican state of Veracruz. This “red” gefilte fish uses the same fish mixture as the “white,” but it is poached in a thick and spiced-up tomato sauce enriched with capers, green olives and mild pickled peppers. Also, it is served hot. Everyone in my family is wild about it.
- Fish Patties
- 1 pound red snapper fillets, no skin or bones
- 1 pound flounder fillets, no skin or bones
- 1 white onion (about ½ pound), quartered
- 2 carrots (about ¼ pound), peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup matzah meal
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
- Red Sauce
- 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
- ½ cup white onion, chopped
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos
- 8 pepperoncini peppers in vinegar brine (chiles güeros en escabeche), or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon capers
- To prepare the fish patty mixture, rinse the red snapper and flounder fillets under a thin stream of cool water. Slice into smaller pieces and place in the food processor. Pulse for 5 to 10 seconds until fish is finely chopped, but hasn’t turned into a paste. Turn fish mixture into a large mixing bowl. Then place the onion, carrots, eggs, matzah meal, salt and pepper into same bowl of the food processor. Process until smooth and turn into the fish mixture. Combine thoroughly.
- To prepare the red sauce, heat the oil in a large cooking pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and let it cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring, until soft and translucent. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the pot, stir and let the mix season and thicken for about 6 minutes. Incorporate water, ketchup, salt and pepper. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and bring sauce to a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer while you roll the gefilte fish patties.
- Place a small bowl with lukewarm water to the side of the simmering tomato broth. Start making the patties in oval shapes. I like to make them about 3 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch high. Wet your hands as necessary, so the fish mixture will not stick. As you make them, gently slide each patty into the simmering broth. Make sure it is simmering, and raise the heat to medium if necessary to keep a steady simmer.
- Once you finish adding the patties, cover the pot and bring the heat to low. Cook them, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove the lid, incorporate the manzanilla olives, pepperoncini peppers and capers. Give a gentle stir and simmer uncovered for 20 more minutes, so the gefilte fish will be thoroughly cooked and the broth will have seasoned and thickened nicely. Serve hot with slices of challah and pickles.