Chef Akasha Richmond loves Rosh Hashanah beause "it's so positive. It's about introspection for the new year, not just getting bombed like the Western tradition." Richmond is "about food, and this is a great holiday for it," so she is serving her own special menu at Akasha in Culver City, available through the holiday weekend. Richmond's interest in Jewish cooking leans toward the Northern African-spiked Sephardic cooking of Spain, rather than Eastern Europe's Ashkenazi tradition. She's given Grub Street L.A. her Rosh Hashanah recipe for Morrocan fish balls, a more flavorful version of gefilte fish that many U.S. eaters are unfamiliar with. "Jewish cooks have always worked with what they have. If you're in Poland, you use potatoes, in Italy, you use olives. So between fish simmered in tomato sauce or boiled in water, I know which version I'd pick anyday," she says. Enjoy Chef Akasha's recipes for Morrocan fish balls and matzoh ball soup below.
Moroccan Fish Balls by Chef Akasha Richmond
Makes about 20 balls
1 1/2 pound skinned whitefish fillets
1 small onion, grated
1 large egg
1/3 cup matzo meal
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5-ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes (or 1 lb fresh plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled seeded and chopped)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 & 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups water
1. Chop the fish in a food processor. Remove to a large bowl add mix in the onion, egg, matzo meal, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt, pepper and cilantro. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate while you make the sauce.
2. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
3. Form the fish mixture into walnut-sized balls. Place into the sauce one at a time and add additional or until firm and the fish is cooked, turning over once. Serve chilled with lemon wedges.
Chef Richmond's Matzoh Ball Soup
2 quarts homemade chicken stock
1 leek, white part only, cleaned, and cut into thin matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons seltzer water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh chopped parsley and dill
1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add leeks, carrots, and parsnip to broth and simmer for 10 minutes and turn off heat.
2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl whisk together the egg, oil, salt and black pepper. Fold in the matzo meal and seltzer water. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Wet your hands with cold water and form batter into 12 balls Drop the matzo balls into boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minute - dont open the lid. The matzo balls will sink and come back to the top as they cook. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve in the hot stock. Makes 6 servings.