Jewish cuisine is full of make-believe. Many dishes are kosher analogues of foods Jews around the world found enticing. Italian Jews devised chazirello, breast of veal redolent of rosemary and garlic to mimic roasted piglets, and silken prosciutto d’oca, “ham” fashioned from goose, a delicacy relished today as much by
Other foods, like falshe fish, where ground chicken poses as gefilte fish, were improvised when the real thing was either unavailable or too expensive. To prepare it, most cooks followed their regular gefilte fish recipes, substituting water and vegetables for the fish broth—no bones and scum to skim, no fish smells, so the dish was a snap to prepare. I learned to add chicken wings from talented home cook Esther Taubenfeld so the broth is richer, especially important here because chicken breast is so bland. The wings also help the broth to gel when cold.
I’ve played around a bit with the texture, and since I prefer the fresher taste that comes with a brief poaching, the “fish” is simmered for only forty minutes, rather than the two hours traditional gefilte fish recipes require. You may substitute moistened matzoh or matzoh meal for the challah, but you must have some filler—it keeps the balls from turning hard and tough.
If you like, serve the falshe fish with real horseradish to complete the masquerade, but I love it with this delicious green olive sauce I devised to accentuate, rather than overpower, the delicate chicken.
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.