Tangerine Fishballs

A Pesach Seder alternative for the gefilte-hesitant.

Tangerine Fishballs

No tangerines were harmed in the making of this dish. As the estimable cookbook author Mr. Copeland Marks (z”l) notes in his landmark tome Sephardic Cooking (copyright 1992, 1994), “The inhabitants of Tangier are known as Tangerines, an amusing but accurate name” (p. 464). Accordingly in our house this Pesach adaptation of Albondigas de Pescada (p. 469) is known as Tangerine Fishballs. It makes an excellent (and easy) Seder alternative to the ubiquitous gefilte-fish starter (appetizer).

For the fishballs:

12 oz (340 grams) boneless mild white fish. This year I am using denis – turbot, carp, or tilapia should also be fine, whatever works out best for you. I have a wonderful fish monger who really exceeded my expectations this morning. He first showed me the very fresh fish, before whisking it away to clean; within a few minutes he returned the prepared, chopped fish, neatly packaged for me to take home.

Very fresh fish at the Mayan Zvi Industrial Zone

To make the fishballs

1 clove garlic

1/4 tsp turmeric powder 

2 T fresh parsley, chopped

1T matzah meal

1/8 tsp hot paprika


This year working with the fish chopped by my fishmonger was much easier and i did not have to use any oil. Also this dish is more attractive with the fishballs slightly smaller rather than on the larger side. Appearance is a big part of how food tastes and it is worth taking a few more minutes to make your fishballs neat and petite.

  1. Blend fish gently with other ingredients until smooth
  2. Coat spoon (or hands)with oil to make it easily form 1” balls (yield: approximately 30– 32 fishballs;

To make the Sauce

Tangerine Fishballs Sauce – Simmering

3 Tablespoons oil (I use 2 Ts sunflower oil and one T EVO)

1 shallot, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, cored and deseeded

1/2 inch peeled and sliced fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

2 celery ribs, diced

1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste


  1. Heat the oil and sauté the shallot with the turmeric and tomatoes until the shallot is transparent and the tomato is softened.
  2. Add water / vegetable broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes over medium low heat.
  3. Remove turmeric slices and blend the sauce until smooth (you can skip this step if you prefer a less smooth sauce).
  4. Add the fish balls and cook, covered for 15 minutes over medium low heat.

Published by skfinston

Born February 21, 1961 in Detroit, Michigan; enjoying 2nd Middle Age in Zichron Yaakov, Israel. After a misspent youth in the US Foreign Service (postings in London, Tel Aviv and Manila), I moved to the Semi-private Sector, working for a leading trade association in Washington DC before launching my own company Finston Consulting in 2005. Over the last 15+ years I have worked with innovative companies ranging from Fortune-100 to start up, as well as NGOs, and governments, including service as a cleared advisor (Secret level) to the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative (IPR, Tariff/Trade Facilitation). As a graduate of the University of Michigan, my degrees include a Bachelors of Science (Philosophy, High Honors), Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Policy. After law school I clerked at the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit before joining the U.S. Foreign Service (TSI-CodeWord Clearance). I am a member of the Illinois and US Supreme Court Bar.

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