Monday, 16 September 2013

Gefilte fish goes kebab

No matter where I would have been this summer I couldn't have ignored one thing: pike's stellar rise to the new darling of the Finnish blogging world. It's been turned into burgers and quenelles and so even I found myself leaving the shop clutching on a slab of pike. Probably for the first time ever. If possible, ask your fishmonger to mince it for you. In the absence of a proper meat mill (just one of the many deficiencies of my minuscule kitchen) you can also shove it into a blender, one batch at a time (oh yeah, that I do have - how else would I make margaritas?).

It's the season oh Jewish High Holidays, so somewhat inevitably my thoughts went out to gefilte fish. But since I didn't have time/ patience/ required fish heads to actually make my own stock in which the fish balls are cooked, you'll just have to wait foor a recipe for that one a little while longer. Then I started toying with the idea of fish kebabs. But as I wanted to keep the end result as light as possible (and free of carbs and gluten) I wanted to make it without flour or bread crumbs. Then I noticed the lovely people of Kivistö had beaten me to it - they had just made pike hot dogs! And that's where the final execution came from. Which is a fish sausage. Or, if you impale it with a skewer, a fish kebab. Light, good and full of summery freshness anyway. Very fitting for their blog, by the way - Kivistö seems to be the kind of magical place they write story books about; a place where summer continues forever. Instead of a whole egg, I only used the white though to prevent the flavour from being too eggy.

The world outside blogosphere however doesn't seem to have caught on how pike is the new black. "Doesn't pike taste like mud?" Tzatziki Champion protested upon learning of plans for our lunch. Erm, no it doesn't. As a tribute to one of her many talents, I made a tzatziki- inspired cucumber salad which today was flavoured with dill instead of the usual mint. But the idea of gefilte fish just wouldn't leave my head, so I had to have some chrein, a pungent beet-horseradish relish that gefilte fish is traditionally served with. The recipe and story behind will follow today!

Depending on the size this makes 6-8 kebabs

Pike kebabs:

400 (and then some) g pike fillet 
zest of one lemon
1/2 - 1 chilli (depending on your palate and the fieriness of your chillis)
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 small onion (or 1/4 of a big one)
1 egg white
1,5 dl double cream
salt, pepper

Grate the lemon zest finely and chop chilli, onion and parsley finely. Mince the fish in a machine, add egg white and the  cream in a thin stream until you're left with a  smooth paste. Fold in lemon zest, parsley, chilli and onion (you could just dump these in the machine as well, but I find that especially onion tends to get too bitter if minced to a paste). Season with salt and pepper and let rest in the cold for half an hour. At this point they don't look much as the blog's Facebook followers have already seen. Pale yes, interesting no. 

Cut the cling film to sheets of about 20 cm long. Spread the mass in an oblong shape in the middle of the sheet and roll tightly. First make one small one to test if the seasoning is right and add more if needed. Then twist the ends and tie into a knot so you have a tightly sealed package. Bring water to boil in a big pot and cook the parcels in simmering water for about 5 minutes. Lift out of the water, let cool until you can remove the cling film and then fry them in butter in a pan to get a nice brown colour.

Serve with cucumber salad.

Cucumber salad:

1 cuucmber
1 dl Greek yoghurt
the juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic (3 if they're small)
1 tbsp finely chopped dill (or mint)
salt, pepper
a little sprinkling of sugar

Combine the ingredients to make a dressing. Cut the cucumber lengthwise in half, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and cut lengthwise into long strips using either a cheese grater or a mandoline or into slices of about half a centimetre. Toss them in the dressing, check the seasoning and serve.




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