Algerian Fish Terrine

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

Algeria’s French connection and its proximity to the Mediterranean account for the prominence of fish on the menu. This recipe for khoubizet mernouz, tweaked for Pesach, is a perfect alternative to gefilte fish, and the egg in the center combines two Passover courses in one.

1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
1 small onion, quartered
10 black peppercorns
2 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
2 pounds of fish fillets, snapper, tilapia, flounder, or sole
2 large onions
2 roasted and peeled red bell peppers, jarred or fresh
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⁄3 cup matzo meal
6 large eggs
3 peeled hard boiled eggs
1⁄2 cup chopped Calamata olives
Olive oil (for oiling the pan)
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 or more teaspoons sweet vermouth or white wine
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large frying pan or 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Strain the liquid and return the clear broth to the used pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer.
  3. Place the fillets in the simmering broth. Cover the pan and poach the fish for 3–5 minutes, until it’s cooked through.
  4. Peel the onions and cut into quarters. Pulse a food processor (fitted with the metal blade) on and off 20 times to create a coarse puree. Alternatively, finely chop all vegetables with a sharp knife.
  5. Rinse the bell peppers and pat dry. Cut into 8ths and add to the work bowl along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pulse on and off until the peppers are pureed.
  6. Drain the fish and add to the work bowl. Process until a smooth mass is formed.
  7. Add the six raw eggs and the matzo meal. Pulse the processor on and off 10 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then turn the machine back on until you have a uniform puree.
  8. Lightly oil a 5"x9" loaf pan or any 1 1⁄2-quart dish that is at least 3 inches deep (to hide the hard boiled eggs). Pour half of the fish mixture into the pan.
  9. Using one of the hard boiled eggs as your mold, make three indentations down the center of the fish mixture. Sprinkle 1⁄2 of the chopped olives evenly into these indentations. Place the three hard boiled eggs on top of the olives and then sprinkle the eggs with the remaining chopped olives.
  10. Pour the remaining fish mixture into the pan. Lightly press down to fully cover the eggs. Smooth out the top.
  11. Place a paper towel in the bottom of a 13"x9" pan. Set the fish-filled pan in the center and then pour hot water around the (loaf) pan to a depth of at least one inch.
  12. Bake in a preheated 325˚F oven for approximately 30 minutes, until the loaf is firm. Remove from the water bath, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  13. To make the sauce, whisk the mayonnaise in a bowl until smooth. Mix in the ketchup and horseradish, stirring well. Add vermouth or white wine by teaspoon until the sauce flows but before it becomes thin and watery.
  14. To serve, remove the loaf from the pan and cut into 1⁄4–1⁄2 inch slices. Drizzle a Tablespoon or more of the sauce on a plate and then place the slice on top of the sauce.
Additional Notes
  • The poaching liquid in this recipe, called a court bouillon, may be substituted for fish stock in any dish.
  • Placing a pan in another pan of water in the oven is called a Bain Marie—a classic French cooking technique equivalent to using a double boiler.