Moroccan Fish Balls

Written by chanie on May 12th, 2015

If there is one store I wish every Jewish community around the world would have, it would be Benz’s Gourmet. The local gourmet kosher shop is celebrating it’s 12th anniversary and we’re feasting on a special gefilte fish recipe in their honor!

Benz’s carries everything from artisan cholov yisroel cheese (imported from France!), smoked fish, caviar, beer, as well as specialty baking and gluten free products. They boast a huge olive bar and a whopping 27 varieties of herring. Whether I’m looking for a gourmet kosher product (like truffle oil), or I’m in the mood for fresh fish, I head on over to Benz’s. Thankfully, it’s just a few blocks away!

What I love about the store is that they are constantly on the lookout for new kosher products. If there is ever an item that I can’t find locally, I ask Benz’s to order it for me, and they do! Recently, I needed rosewater for an upcoming Shavuot recipe, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I gave them a call and it was in the store just a few days later. Now that’s what I call good service!

Besides for Benz’s gourmet selection, they also carry traditional gefilte fish, a family recipe that they’ve been perfecting for over 30 years. I’m always looking to change up traditional gefilte (‘cuz reinventing traditional food is what I do best!) and Benz’s gefilte fish offers me the perfect canvas to build my hybrid recipe.

I don’t know about you, but the more I cook, the more I appreciate savory food. And the more I experiment, the more I realize that you don’t need to use a lot of sweetener in your cooking. My mom doesn’t agree, and neither does my Bubby. They’re ashkenazi food is loaded with sugar, the more the merrier.

If you ask me, sugar is just a fill-in for the absence of flavor. If you build layers of flavor and spice, there’s no need to load sugar into savory food. Look at gefilte fish – most Jewish Bubby’s cook it up in stock made of onions, carrots and celery (the good stuff!), they season to taste with salt and pepper and then they go ahead and pour a boatload of sugar into the pot. I grew up on that stuff, so I know. And don’t get me wrong, it even tastes good. So does candy.

I don’t want to carry on the sugar torch, so I’m trying to condition my kids to like savory foods. I don’t overload my salad’s with sugar, and I make spicy roasted chickpeas as a snack instead of cake. That’s not to say that my kids don’t get to pick their favorite sugary cereal as a Shabbat treat. Believe me, they have their fill of sugar. But I try. And all Bubby’s everywhere are questioning my better judgement!

Sephardic Bubby’s have been serving chraime for years. it’s a popular Moroccan dish of fish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, and it’s usually made with white fish or salmon. I decided to shake things up by using prepared gefilte fish, ‘cuz that’s the way I roll (pun intended). I incorporated all the traditional elements of Moroccan fish here – including colored peppers, lots of garlic, parsley, lemon, and of course, harissa – a hot pepper paste that’s often used in North African cuisine. I’ve made variations of this recipe for a fish loaf as well as fried patties, but I love how these fish balls can stretch a roll of gefilte fish into so many portions. The fish balls become nice and fluffy, almost the texture of a matza balls, but with lots of spice from cumin, turmeric and fresh garlic.

As good as it is, I’m not sure my fusion cooking would win my husband’s Sephardic family over (although it did win him over, he asked for triples!). Sephardim are not fond of gefilte fish (understatement). On the flip side, try asking my Ashkenazi Bubby to eat spicy gefilte fish, I can just hear her already. Spicy gefilte fish? With harissa? What’s thatCould you pass the sugar please?! So here I am, mixing up the cultures with another one of my hybrid recipes, and I hope ya’ll will enjoy it, Ashkenazim and Sephardim alike.


This post is sponsored by Benz’s Fish. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram or at BenzsFish.com. And don’t forget to visit Benz’s Gourmet at 332 Albany Ave in Brooklyn. 

Related Recipes:

gefilte fish patties in tomato sauce
breaded gefilte fish patties
gefilte fish, three ways

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40 Comments so far ↓

  1. ailuy says:

    Hi, thank you so much for posting this recipe, I would love to try it for Shabbat. I have a question about “Benz’s gefilte fish(I used no-sugar-added)”. Is there no sugar at all or is there a sugar substitute. My family and I do not like sweet fish (sorry), so I usually make mine from scratch. I have never tried “Benz’s gefilte fish no-sugar-added”. If it is on a sweeter side, how would you suggest I adjust the recipe to make it from scratch/ Thank you

    • chanie says:

      Hi Ailuy, there is no sugar and no sugar substitute. I don’t find the fish to be sweet in the slightest s I think it will work for you.

  2. Aliza says:

    You read my mind! I just saw a recipe for moroccan white fish in a similar sauce and was wondering whether gefilte fish would work…so glad you came up with this! Any idea whether freezing the recipe would work?

  3. Elisheva says:

    Hi, These sound delicious! Do you think they could be served cold? Thank you

    • chanie says:

      Hi Elisheva,

      I think they could be served cold, but would probably better at room temperature. Just take them out like 2 hours before serving.

  4. Rachel says:

    These look great
    I was just curious, does the Harissa add a lot of heat to the fish? I’m not into very spicey. Can I maybe substitute it for something else?

    • chanie says:

      Hi Rachel, it is a twist on Moroccan fish so it’s supposed to be spicy. That being said, the harissa also adds a depth of flavor to the sauce, so without it, it might be a little blah. I would say, just start with a teaspoon, I’m sure you can handle that.

  5. Dvora says:

    Where would one find kosher harissa? or what can I substitute for it? Thanks!

    • chanie says:

      Hi Dvora, you can look in the refrigerated section near the hummus, or near the canned sauces. I’ve seen it sold both ways. If you can’t find harissa, you can substitute with red schug, available in the refrigerator section as well.

  6. Rach says:

    OMG!!! it was so so good!

  7. Elly says:

    tried these last Yomtov , using prefried ( bought) fishballs. Got raving reviews :-) ! Although I used a simpler version of the sauce , as well, being pressed for time – principle the same, preparation made as simple as possible , left it on platta , was very nice for Shabbat lunch .

  8. Jane Gordon says:

    I was scrolling by & I thought these were meatballs, but instead they’re even better, fish balls! :) Great recipe!

  9. Shira says:

    Can I make ahead and freeze?

  10. Sossie says:

    Hi! I’ve been wanting to make this ever since you posted the recipe!! I’m making it for RH – if I’m using 2 loaves of fish do I need to double the sauce recipe too?

  11. Shayna says:

    Hey! Can I substitute with fresh fish but use the same recipe? If yes what kind and how much? Thanks

    • chanie says:

      Hi Shayna. Store-bought gefilte fish has added flavors and fillers so fresh fish cannot be substituted equally. If you’d like, you can adapt the recipe by coating fresh fish fillets in the spices and herbs. Then prepare the sauce (without the added stock) and pour it over the fish. Cook until the fish is flaky.

  12. Wendy says:

    Sounds delicious. I love the idea of using ready made gefilte fish. What is the weight of the fish on the package?

  13. Rachel says:

    I made these as in he recipe and they were so good! I would like to try it though as patties. Would I fry the fish sliced as is, or would I make the fish mixture and then shape into patties and fry? Thanks!

  14. VS says:

    Hi, these looked really good so i tried them. I doubled the recipe and it came out rubbery :(

    • chanie says:

      Oh wow, so sorry to hear this! What company fish did you use? This is one of my most popular recipes on the blog and no one ever told me that!

      • VS says:

        I actually used Bentzi brand! Don’t know what went wrong…

        • chanie says:

          There’s nothing in the recipe that would make them rubbery, it has to be the fish. I was just in the store and I asked them about it. Did you use their Passover fish by any chance? They said that maybe the potato starch could cause that…

  15. chaya says:

    I have a leftover roll of Passover gefilte fish in my freezer (not Benz-a different brand) and was thinking of making this recipe to use it up. Do you think it won’t work?

    • chanie says:

      Sure, any brand should work, kosher for Passover or not. Depending on the consistency of the fish, it may need a bit more or less matza meal.

  16. Sima says:

    Absolutely awesome recipe!!! Fabulous! Just made it!
    Right up my alley… my kids looooved it!

  17. Breindy says:

    Can I make this w salmon?

  18. BR says:

    being Hungarian from all sides of the family, Spices like cumin and turmeric was not in the lexicon. I took the gamble omitted the Harissa spice. Were all hooked. This was just a try out made from 2lbs ground fish and not a morsel left!! the sauce was being scraped out of the pot!

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