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!
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • 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.