I always like to do something here at Oceana to celebrate the holidays. I know what everyone is going to say, but why not gefilte fish for Passover? I started serving this three years ago, and actually served it to Frank Bruni when he was the restaurant critic for The New York Times on one of his visits to review us. I had served it as an "amuse bouche", a small bite that begins your meal. He said he enjoyed it but he didn't mention it in his review (which was great, by the way).
"Gefilte" loosely translates to "stuffed" or "filled" and the research I did on the subject led me to believe that the original preparation was the ground fish mixture stuffed back inside the skin of the fish it came from then cooked. I took that idea, along with the significance of horseradish as one of the traditional Passover foods, as inspiration for my version.
I make a fairly traditional filling, except I use a combination of wild striped bass and halibut rather than pike, whitefish and carp. I grind the fish and mix it with matzoh meal, eggs, cooked onions and carrots, and parsley. I place it in a pastry bag and pipe it onto a fish skin, which I then roll up like a sushi roll. Wild striped bass and salmon skins work great because they are so large and easy to deal with. Other skins could work too, as long it is a fish skin that you would normally be able to eat. Snapper, black bass etc would work. Just scale your fish before filleting then scrape the flesh side well with a knife to remove all of the blood line and fat.
Above, the cleaned skins (here, wild Alaskan king salmon) and the filling in the pastry bag.
Above, the filling piped along the length of the skin (which has been cut in half for manageability)
Above, rolling. I steam the rolls about two-and-a-half minutes, then cool in the refrigerator.
Here's the finished dish. The rolls are sliced and served over a bed of steamed carrots and leeks with a good bit of parsley and a good, strong horseradish consomme.