I love the holidays. Yes, they are a tremendous amount of work, but they are also a wonderful time to refresh, to count our blessings, and to connect to G-d, ourselves, and to our families. The special traditions and foods associated with the holidays always serve to remind me of my childhood and connect me to my roots.
Here I retain the idea of serving a stuffed fish (gefilte fish), but I no longer stuff carp with carp but rather trout with pomegranates. The flavor of this dish is Oriental. The spice that I use in this recipe is cardamom, the same spice commonly used in Turkish coffee and one which I naturally associate with Israel. Thus this recipe symbolizes to me the fusion of the old and the new, where I came from as well as where I am now. I am using the same symbols as my parents (ad meah ve’esrim) use, but in a completely different fashion.
Another ingredient in this recipe is pine nuts. Some Ashkenazic Jews don’t eat any nuts on Rosh Hashanah because the hebrew numeric value for nut (egoz) is the same as the numeric value of misdeed (chet). Others hold that the prohibition against nuts applies only to walnuts. If your tradition excludes all nuts then pumpkin seeds are a good alternative.
As a nutritional counselor as well as cooking instructor I always look at the health benefits of a dish as well as at the flavor. The nature of a holiday is one of excess. Holidays are a time when we strive to reach beyond the ordinary, to set ourselves new goals, and to appreciate all that is special and holy in our lives. While I am a big believer in reducing the amount of animal products that we eat, I think that holidays are the time to eat it. The richness of the animal products corresponds to the general holiday atmosphere and emphasizes our celebration. When asked to choose between animal products, fish is of course the healthiest. Fish is the animal product that is lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol and also a source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Pomegranates are a great health choice as well. They are high in the Vitamins A, C, and E and contain folic acid, niacin and potassium. They are rich in anti-oxidants, beneficial in healing breast and prostate cancer, help prevent hardening of the arteries and help to lower blood pressure. They are used in remedies for bladder disturbances and are also used to strengthen gums as well as soothe ulcers of the mouth and throat.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.
2 fresh trout
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
pinch of cardamom
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
juice of 1/2 lemon
Note: To make for easier eating, ask your fish-seller if he will fillet the fish for you without removing the head.