Gefilte Quenelles with Braised Leeks and Lemon Zest

 
  • Cooking and Prep: 3 h 40 m
  • Serves: 6
  • Contains:

Jeff’s grandmother Alice Solomon used to make gefilte fish from the fresh northern pike that Jeff’s grandfather Lester would catch in the lake outside their summer cabin in Wisconsin. Alice’s gefilte fish bore little resemblance to the store-bought gefilte fish dumplings typically seen at Passover, but they did resemble the light-textured fish quenelles—or fish dumplings— we have often enjoyed in France. Which is how we came up with this recipe!


Don’t wait for Passover to enjoy them. They make a wonderful year-round first course or main course. Leftovers are great for lunch too. A hint of ginger, fennel, and coriander adds a subtle, exotic touch. (Horseradish is not recommended.) These quenelles can be served chilled or at room temperature.


For best results, prepare these pink-hued salmon dumplings a day in advance and let them soak, refrigerated, in their broth. They can be plated in minutes.

Ingredients (19)

Main ingredients

Sommelier Suggests

Start Cooking

Prepare the Quenelles

  1. Place the fish, half the chopped garlic, the ginger, chopped onion, eggs, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a food processor. In pulse mode, finely chop (but do not puree).

  2. Transfer the fish mixture to a large nonreactive bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. (If the fish is not cold enough, it will not hold its shape when you mold it into balls. You can speed up the cooling process by putting the fish in the freezer. But be careful not to let it freeze.)

  3. While the fish is chilling, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and remaining chopped garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about three minutes.

  4. Add the carrots and stir to coat with the oil. Add the fennel and stir until it is coated as well. Continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme, coriander, and the remaining one teaspoon salt. Add the wine, water, and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

  5. Remove the pot from the heat and let the broth cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve the vegetables from the broth in a covered container and refrigerate. Divide the strained broth between two large pots or deep-sided skillets.

  6. Roll the chilled fish mixture into 10 to 12 balls and arrange them on a flat surface covered with wax paper. (If necessary, wet your hands occasionally with cold water to prevent sticking.) Bring the broth in the pots to a boil over high heat. Use a large spoon to gently lay the quenelles into the broth, dividing them between the two pots so that they have room to cook without touching each other. Reduce the heat to medium and if the quenelles are not completely submerged, spoon a little broth over the tops. Cover and braise (which means simply to cook in any liquid—in this case the vegetable broth) for 15 minutes.

  7. Turn off the heat, uncover the pots, and let the quenelles cool slightly in the broth for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the fish and the broth together to a large covered container and refrigerate overnight or up to two days.

Prepare the Leeks

  1. A few hours prior to serving the fish, prepare the leeks. Fill a large deep-sided skillet or pan with about half an inch water and bring to a boil. Lay the leeks in the pan, cover, and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the leeks from the liquid and let cool for 10 or 15 minutes. Cover and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To Serve

  1. Halve each leek lengthwise. On individual plates, lay two leek halves in an “A” or “teepee” shape, touching at the top but leaving a wide space at the bottom. Set one quenelle in between the leeks for a first course; two quenelles for a main course.

  2. Place a spoonful or two of the reserved broth vegetables around the sides of the fish. Garnish the quenelles with additional juice from the fish broth, the lemon zest, and pepper to taste.

About

Reprinted from The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table with permission from the publisher.

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