Baking is a popular way to cook gefilte fish. It’s easier because you don’t have to poach it in fish stock. When baked, gefilte fish has a different texture, with a crusty top and a softer interior, unlike the traditional poached fish balls which are moist throughout. Some people shape the fish into patties and bake them in a tomato sauce; others shape it as a free-form loaf. Easiest of all is to spoon the fish mixture into a loaf pan or baking dish and serve the finished loaf in slices or squares. Baked gefilte fish is served hot or cold and often is a main course. If you serve it cold, you can top each serving with a cooked carrot slice and accompany it with horseradish.
We often ate baked gefilte fish when I was growing up. When my mother made poached gefilte fish, she saved part of the mixture to bake as a loaf. Some cooks enrich their baked gefilte fish mixture with oil. Some sprinkle it with paprika, while others spread ketchup on top for the last 5 minutes of baking so it will brown.
Yield: Makes about 6 servings
2 pounds halibut, sole, or sea bass fillets
2 large eggs
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper, preferably white
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
¼ cup matzo meal
Paprika, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Grind fish in 2 batches in a food processor until very fine. Return half the fish to food processor and add 1 egg, half the chopped onions, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon sugar, if using. Process to thoroughly mix. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining fish, egg, onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Transfer to bowl and mix with first batch. Stir in celery, carrots, oil if using, and matzo meal.
3. Spoon fish into prepared pan. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes or until set. Serve hot or cold, in slices.