Robb Walsh's 100 Favorite Houston Dishes: #74 Jalapeño Gefilte Fish at Rustika on Southwest Freeway

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Over the course of the next few months, I'm counting down 100 of my favorite Houston dishes. I chose some because they are such quintessential Houston creations, others for their cultural or historical significance, and others because they are just so damn tasty. Share your own nominations in the comments.

#74 Jalapeño Gefilte Fish at Rustika on Southwest Freeway
This Passover, I recommend you try the spicy gefilte fish at Rustika Café & Bakery on Southwest Freeway near Buffalo Speedway. The usually bland white fish lumps are covered with sautéed tomato and roasted green chile pepper strips. The owners of Rustika Bakery are from Mexico City and are Jewish, the guy behind the counter told me when I asked him for an explanation.

"Gefilte" is Yiddish for "stuffed." The original gefilte fish was a whole fish that had been boned. The meat was ground with onions, eggs and matzoh and stuffed back into the skin, then poached and served in slices. Somehow the fish skin disappeared, and now the term has come to mean poached quenelles of ground pike, carp or whitefish. The fish is strong-smelling, though somewhat bland-tasting. I became quite fond of these white fish balls over the years. I usually ate them with freshly ground horseradish, which is found in abundance at Passover Seders.

The first time I tried the dish, I thought it was covered with green bell peppers. So I cut off a large chunk and made sure I got plenty of the vegetables in my first bite. I chewed a little, and my eyes widened. I hiccupped a couple of times before I realized the peppers were actually jalapeños rajas, and they were hot as hell in August.

Mexican gefilte fish--who knew?

The list to date:

#100: Green Chile Chicken Kebabs at Chatkhara Grill
#99: The All-Day Burrito at Cherry Top Bakery
#98: "You Buy We Fry" Trout Basket at Hank's Fish Market
#97: Chicharron de Barriga at La Michoacana Meat Market # 10
#96: Pakistani Breakfast at Kings Chicken
#95: Fried Mojarra at Taqueria Jesus Maria
#94: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake Ball at Coffee Groundz
#93:Cheeseburger at Leonard's Famous Burgers
#92: Lasagna at Doyle's
#91: Cochinita Pibil at Tacos La Bala
#90: Fajita Tacos at Taqueria El Charro
#89: Kubideh and Zereshk Polo at Kasra Persian Grill
#88: Trentino Gelato's Dulce de Leche at Shisha
#87: Deviled Eggs at Nielsen's Deli
#86: Italian-Cuban Sandwich at Logan Farms
#85: Vegetable Trio in Sichuan Sauce at Spicy Sichuan
#84: Salchi-Burger at Brisa Cocina
#83: El Ultimo Taco Truck's Breakfast Tacos
#82: Kielbasa on a Sizzling Comal at Polonia
#81: Shrimp and Grits at Bistro Alex, Hotel Sorella
#80: A Bowl of Chili at James Coney Island
#79: Lamb Dumplings at Lucky Pot
#78: Crazy Irishman Sushi Roll at Soma
#77:Tesar's "Magic" Burger
#76: Mac n' Cheese at Two Saints
#75: Spicy Armenian Kebabs at Café Rita

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