What is Gefilte Fish?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

As one of the more common examples of Jewish food, gefilte fish is a simple fish cake that is made from bits of fish that meet with the dietary standards of the Jewish faith. Gefilte fish can be used in a number of different recipes, providing a great deal of options when it comes to meals. Here is some information about the gefilte fish, how the types of fish are selected for the product and how gefilte fish can be used to create a tasty entree for just about any meal.


While many different types of fish are used today in the making of gefilte fish, the traditional approach calls for using fresh water fish, most notably members of the pike or carp family. The fish is cleaned and deboned, then minced into small pieces. In order to create the more common fish balls or fish cakes using gefilte fish, the minced or ground fish meat is boiled in a broth along with onions, carrots, and celery.

Once the fish is thoroughly cooked, it is removed from the broth and rolled into either cakes or fish balls. At times, some of the vegetables used to season the broth are also chopped up and included in the gefilte fish mixture. The end result is a form of fish that is easily refrigerated and can be served later either hot or cold.

Perhaps the most common way of serving gefilte fish is placing the cold cake or ball on a bed of greens, with a garnish of horseradish sauce. The fish can be consumed in a manner similar to any type of fish patty. An alternative is to deep-fry the gefilte fish, giving the exterior a crunchy texture that many people find appealing.

Finding recipes that employ gefilte fish is not hard to do. Any cookbook that features Jewish cuisine from different lands is sure to have several excellent gefilte fish recipes included. Along with the cookbooks, there are also a number of recipe sites online that offer plenty of recipes for making the basic gefilte fish as well as using the fish as an ingredient in other recipes.

While it is possible for anyone to prepare gefilte fish at home with the proper fish meat and other ingredients, there are a number of grocery stores today that carry frozen gefilte fish that can be thawed and used in a number of recipes. Often, high-end grocers that carry international cuisine are a good place to look, although a number of mainline supermarkets will also carry gefilte fish as well.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel-- Fried is definitely the way to go for gefilte fish -- for me, anyway. It's pretty good when it's hot out of the pan. The frozen kind from the grocery store works just fine for making the patties for frying.


I've seen gefilte fish in jars in the grocery store, with the other Kosher and/or Passover foods. It never looked terribly appetizing to me, and I surely wouldn't eat it cold, but if you grew up with it, I'm sure it's not a problem to eat it cold.

I probably would try gefilte fish fried in a fish cake. I like fried fish, so that would be a good way to try it, I think, if you're not familiar with it.

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