OK. Go ahead. Get the smart a#! remarks out of your system. If halibut and beef have cheeks, if chickens have fingers, if pork has tenders, why can’t fish have balls? Meat has balls, so why not fish?
In a Jewish household it’s called gefilte fish; the French call them quenelles; restaurants around the world serve fish cakes. It’s just different preparations of the same basic ingredient – ground up or chopped fish.
I created this recipe during Jennifer’s recovery from hip replacement surgery. She was under doctor’s orders to not leave the house for three weeks. That meant, among other things, there would be no restaurant meals. I set out to keep her spirits up by turning out a different meal every night and trying to stay mostly on the healthful side.
½ lb. of a white fish – cod, flounder, sea bass, white fish – skinned
2 Tblsp whole-wheat bread crumbs
3 Tblsp snipped chives or scallions
14 oz. can of diced, no salt added, fire roasted tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt and black pepper
3 white mushrooms, sliced
Cut the fish into large pieces, being sure to remove all bones.
Put the fish into a food processor with the bread crumbs and the chives or scallions. Season with a pinch of black pepper. Process until the fish is chopped but still has texture. Or, run the fish and chives or scallions through a meat grinder, adding the pepper after the fish is ground. Add the bread crumbs and knead them into the fish thoroughly.
Form eight fish balls from the mixture, using your hands. At this point the fish balls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours. Be sure to take them out about 30 minutes before you plan to complete the recipe to bring them to room temperature.
Place the tomatoes in a 9 inch sauce pan. Heat to a slow boil. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes. Add the mushrooms and cook at a low boil about 5 minutes. Add the fish balls, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. If the fish balls are not completely submerged in the tomatoes, turn them over after five minutes.
Serve sautéed spinach and a baguette, or French or Italian bread for mopping the tomato sauce.