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Celebrate Hanukkah with fried fish

December 12, 2000

Celebrate Hanukkah with fried fish

The Associated Press

Fried foods are prepared during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah as a symbol of the oil that burned for eight days in a Jerusalem temple while the supply was believed to be enough for only one day.


This year Hanukkah begins at sundown Thursday, Dec. 21.

Fried Fish with Garlic Mayonnaise or Egg-and-Lemon Sauce from "Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean" (Chronicle Books, $35) by Joyce Goldstein aims to capture the sweetness of the fish. Sole, snapper, cod or boned, whole smelt are recommended for the dish.

The fish can be served alone, with a squeeze of lemon at the table; with a dollop of "ajada," the Sephardic garlic mayonnaise; or with "agristada," an egg-and-lemon sauce.

For fish:

  • 2 pounds fresh fish fillets
  • kosher or sea salt
  • all-purpose flour
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sweet paprika, optional
  • 2 eggs
  • vegetable oil for frying

Place fish fillets on a plate, sprinkle with salt, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Spread flour on a plate and season with salt, pepper and paprika, if using. Beat eggs in wide, shallow bowl. Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches into a deep saut pan and heat to 375 degrees, as measured on a deep-frying thermometer.

Working in batches, dip fish fillets in eggs, then into flour and slip them into hot oil. Fry, turning once, until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes total for fillets. Cooking time is a little less for smelts.

Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Keep warm until all fish is fried.

Arrange fish on platter and serve piping hot. Pass sauce at table.

For egg-and-lemon sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups fish stock or water, or mixture of stock and water
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • juice of 2 lemons for 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup
  • salt

In small saucepan, combine cornstarch with a few tablespoons of stock or water and stir to make a smooth paste. Add remaining stock and/or water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly so no lumps form. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring often until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, beat together eggs and lemon juice until frothy. Whisk in a little hot stock to temper eggs, then gradually stir eggs into liquid remaining in pan. Simmer over very low heat, stirring often, until sauce thickens, just a few minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.

Transfer to bowl and cover to keep warm, or let cool and serve cold. When sauce is served cold, it has the consistency of mayonnaise.

For garlic mayonnaise:

  • 5 or 6 cloves garlic, green sprouts removed and minced
  • kosher or sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, or mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine garlic and salt on cutting board and mash with side of knife to a fine puree. Transfer to blender or food processor, add egg yolk and pulse to combine. With motor running, slowly add oil, drop by drop, until a thick emulsion forms. Then add remaining oil in a slow, steady stream and process until mixture has consistency of mayonnaise. Add lemon juice to taste, and thin with a little cold water if mixture is too thick. Transfer to bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.

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