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A French Take on Gefilte Fish

 by Diane Rossen Worthington

I grew up with the classic gefilte fish served as a starter to the long Passover meal. However, this is a tasty dish that can be served anytime.

Gefilte fish is basically a fish puree, poached and served chilled. Among my friends and family, people either love it or don’t even want to see it on their plate. I came up with this terrine (a fancy French term for a rectangular loaf pan) as a response to the gefilte fish naysayers. I am happy to report that many of them come back for seconds once they tuck into this tasty reinterpretation.

Ground whitefish is blended with sauteed sweet caramelized onions and carrots and then baked in a loaf pan rather than poached in liquid. The ground whitefish used here is the same fish used for the popular Jewish dish gefilte fish, and is regularly available in many supermarkets and fish markets during Jewish holidays. If you can’t find the fish ground, process the fillets in the food processor, making sure first to remove the skin and all the bones. (You’ll need about 2 pounds of whitefish fillets with the skin on if you are going to grind it yourself.)

This terrine is pretty served in overlapping slices on a large rectangular platter with matzo crackers. The accompanying bright red beet-horseradish relish adds a burst of color and flavor to the chilled terrine. You can also serve it as the first course on individual plates with mixed greens lightly dressed with a simple vinaigrette and a dollop of the beet-horseradish sauce on the side. Sometimes I serve it with simple horseradish cream if I am in a hurry.

Remember, this needs to be made a day ahead of serving because it must be chilled. This is so delicious as a first course or a light main course for any time of the year. If you have any left over, it’s great for lunch.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Holidays,” and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at

Whitefish Terrine with Beet-Horseradish Relish

Serves 10 to 12.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large eggs
3 1/2 tablespoons matzo meal
3/4 cup chicken stock, fish stock, or water
1 1/2 pounds ground whitefish or a mixture of whitefish, pike and buffalo fish
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 jar (5 ounces) prepared horseradish cream
2 medium beets, cooked

• Lemon slices
• Parsley sprigs


1. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9- by 5- by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the eggs with the matzo meal. When well combined, add the stock, fish, cooled carrots and onion, salt, pepper and sugar, and continue to beat until well blended.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Pick up the pan with both hands and slam it down on the counter to settle any air bubbles. Drizzle the lime juice over the top and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a long wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Place the horseradish cream and cooked beets in a food processor and process until pureed. Transfer to a small container, cover and refrigerate.

6. Remove the terrine from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Wrap in aluminum foil and chill overnight.

7. Loosen the sides of the terrine from the pan by running a knife blade along the edges. Invert the terrine onto a plate, and then turn upright on a platter. Slice the terrine into 3/4-inch slices. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley and serve. Pass the beet-horseradish sauce separately.

Advance Preparation: Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated.



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