A Very Salty (Yiddishe) Christmas

By Devra Ferst

Published December 24, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Christmas is the one time of year that I culinarily lament not being Catholic.

It’s the holiday when Roman Catholics traditionally eat a feast of seven different types of fish — often each has its own course. While many Jews chow down on a feast of lo mein and spring rolls on Christmas, my family meets somewhere in the middle: We feast on my Latvian great-grandmother’s recipe for fligls on Christmas morning.

Fligl literally means wing in Yiddish. The word is mostly used to describe a chicken wing, but it can also be used for the wing or the fin of a fish — in this case, the fin of smoked salmon. The area around the fin and at the side of the lox filet is meaty, a bit bony, lusciously fatty and packed with flavor that nearly transports you to the Baltic, where the recipe is originally from.

Few delis still carry the delicacy, as most only purchase the side of lox we are used to seeing on our Sunday bagel. However, to honor the Old World, certain delis and specialty shops will order fligls upon request. In New York, Russ and Daughter’s on the Lower East Side carries fligls and Zabar’s on the Upper West Side will order them for customers, if given a few days notice.

What follows is our family recipe for fligls.

Ingredients:

Fligls from Nova Scotia smoked salmon and from lox, smoked for flavor, 2–3 fligls per person. (depending upon size of the fligls)

1 large sweet onion

2 small or medium sized new potatoes for each fligl

A bunch of fresh dill

1 teaspoon of good peppercorns such as tellicherry

1 bay leaf

1 pint sour cream

1). Chop up dill and set aside.

2). Wash and cut the unpeeled new potatoes into 3-inch cubes and cover in cold water in a bowl and set aside.

3). Slice the onion and sauté in unsalted butter in a large heavy soup pot until the onions are translucent.

4). Drain the cut potatoes.

5). Add the potatoes, pepper, bay leaf and fligls to the onions in the soup pot. Cover with water a couple of inches above the ingredients and simmer for a half hour or so until the potatoes are cooked but reasonably firm.

6). Use a slotted spoon to ladle the potatoes and fligls into soup bowls.

7). Garnish with the chopped dill and sour cream.

Hat tip to my father, Walter Ferst, for the recipe and for keeping the tradition alive.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?








You may also be interested in our English-language newsletters:













We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.