I kind of want to call this Sephardic gefilte fish.
Looking for a Passover fish recipe and a little bored with my usual ones, I was glad to find this in last December’s Al HaShulchan magazine. I modified it to include somewhat less chili. The tender, juicy morsels are cooked in a soupy sauce, sort of like gefilte fish, but Eastern Europe never knew the olive oil, garlic and chili that give this dish its huge flavor kick. Not to mention plenty of cilantro – you’ll need a bunch and a half.
And it’s entirely kosher for Passover. The Little One liked it so much, she asked me to cook it for the Seder. Happy to oblige, darlin’ daughter.
In the meantime, let me wish you a happy and a kosher Passover, reader. This year in Jerusalem!
Spicy Moroccan Fish Balls KFP
Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a main dish – easily doubled
For the fish balls:
500 grams – 1 lb. ground grey mullet
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup grated potato
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 thinly-sliced white onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
1/2 hot green pepper
Peeled cloves of 1 garlic bulb
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups water
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lemon, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook until soft, stirring. Over medium heat, this should take about 3 minutes. Add the paprika and tomato paste. Cook 1 more minute.
Add the water, cilantro, lemon and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook 20 minutes over medium heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
About 10 minutes into the time the sauce is cooking, assemble the fish balls.
Either pulse the fish ball ingredients in the food processor, or mix with a wooden spoon. Either way, don’t work it so hard that it forms a paste. You want a light, almost crumbly mixture.
With your hands, lightly knead the mixture for half a minute. According to Al HaShulchan, the heat of your hands will bind the ingredients together. Form balls the size of ping-pong balls and set aside in a cool place.
Check the consistency of the sauce. If you like it soupy, it’ll be ready in 20 minutes cooking time. If you want it thicker, cook it down some more. When you feel the sauce is to your taste, gently place the fish balls into it and cook 10 minutes.
Serve as an appetizer for the Big Meal. Although it makes a fine, light main dish for 4 also.