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Whitefish Quenelles with Beets, Horseradish, and Fresh Herbs

Inspired by several Passover customs, this composed first course consists of egg-shaped dumplings made with three kinds of fish and matzo meal, in a chilled, herb-infused fish stock, and a piquant pairing of vinegar-soaked beets and fresh horseradish. Sprigs of herbs -- some bitter -- are more than just a garnish.

  • Servings: 12
  • Yield: Makes about 3 dozen
Whitefish Quenelles with Beets, Horseradish, and Fresh Herbs

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2007


For the Fish Stock

  • 3 1/2 pounds fish bones (from whitefish, pike, or carp, or a combination), rinsed well
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) dry white wine

For the Quenelles

  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinned pike fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinned whitefish fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound skinned carp fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons matzo meal
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt, plus 3/4 teaspoon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the Beets

  • 3 medium red beets, stems and greens removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

For the Horseradish

  • 1 cup finely grated peeled fresh horseradish
  • 1/2 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of coarse salt

For garnish

  • 2 bunches fresh dill, separated into small sprigs
  • 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley, separated into small sprigs
  • 1 bunch fresh chives (about 12), cut into 1-inch pieces


  1. Make the stock: Put fish bones, onions, carrots, celery, herbs, wine, and 10 cups cold water into a large stockpot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, skimming foam from surface, 40 minutes. Pour through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Let cool completely. Cover, and refrigerate until cold (up to 2 days).

  2. Make the quenelles: Finely chop onion in a food processor. Add half the pike, whitefish, and carp; process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl. Puree remaining fish. Return first batch of fish to the processor, and pulse to combine.

  3. With machine running, add eggs and egg whites; process until just combined. Transfer to bowl. Stir in matzo meal, salt, sugar, lemon juice, pepper, and nutmeg. Add ice water in a slow, steady stream, stirring until combined. Press through a large-mesh sieve into another bowl. Refrigerate 30 minutes (up to 1 day).

  4. Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan. Shape quenelles using two wet soup spoons: Use one spoon to scoop up a mounded spoonful of batter; slide second spoon on top of first, with spoons pointing in opposite directions. Spoon the batter back and forth a few times, scraping it into a small, neat egg shape. Drop quenelles into simmering stock as you form them, working in batches of 8. Cook until quenelles float and surface springs back when lightly pressed, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer quenelles to a large, shallow bowl as they are done. Strain stock over quenelles in bowl; cover, and refrigerate overnight.

  5. Prepare the beets: Preheat oven to 350. Toss beets with oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Arrange beets on a rimmed baking sheet; cover with foil. Bake until beets are very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; peel. Cut into 1/4-inch dice, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add vinegar, and toss; season with salt. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 days).

  6. Make the horseradish: Stir together horseradish, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cover, and refrigerate up to 1 day.

  7. Remove quenelles from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. To serve, spoon 3 quenelles and about 2 tablespoons stock into each bowl. Place 1 tablespoon beets and 1 tablespoon horseradish next to quenelles, and garnish with herbs. Place remaining horseradish in a small bowl, and serve on the side.

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