CROWN HEIGHTS — Why is this night different from all other nights? Because there's a shortage of gefilte fish!
A harsh winter in the Great Lakes region has sparked a shortage of fresh whitefish, the main ingredient for the Passover dish gefilte fish — in a development that could put a damper on this year's Jewish holiday, according to suppliers of a local Kosher fish market.
Raskin’s Fish Market in Crown Heights has been scrambling to come up with enough whitefish to keep up with demand for Passover, after frozen conditions in lakes that produce much of the whitefish supply sent fish populations dwindling.
“It’s very bad,” said Schlomo Raskin, who opened the market in 1961 and said he can’t remember a shortage like this in the past 30 years. “You feel very badly when a customer comes in and she wants to buy 30 pounds and you only have 5.”
Workers at Raskin’s said they usually get dozens of pounds of whitefish a day during the busy season, but now they’re lucky to get a few. While the problem has lingered for months, they said, it's most extreme this holiday week. The whitefish is ground and made into patties often served in two meals a day during the Passover holidays.
Customers filed in and out of the shop on Kingston Avenue near Union Street to prepare for the holiday, in search of a portion of the remaining fish.
“It’s gold,” said manager Yossi Hayward, 28. “It’s first-come, first-served.”
While the whitefish remains scarce, Raskin’s workers said they’ll make their gefilte with a different mixture of ground fish, including halibut and carp. And for those doing last-minute Passover shopping, the shop has pre-packaged gefilte fish for sale, which is made at a kitchen they run in Brownsville.
For information about what's available at Raskin's, call the shop at (718) 756 9521.