Shortage Woes for Gefilte Fish Lovers This Passover

A whitefish shortage hitting the Great Lakes region is causing trouble for Jewish families this Passover holiday, when the fish is a key ingredient in the traditional Jewish dish of gefilte fish.

Chicago and Detroit markets reported difficulty filling orders, and a commercial fishing agency said the fish shortfall was being felt as far as New York.

A particularly cold winter is partly to blame, leaving over 90 percent of the Great Lakes surface frozen and in some cases commercial fishing boats stuck in port.

"Everybody's pulling their hair out," said Kevin Dean, co-owner of Superior Fish Co., a wholesaler near Detroit whose latest shipment provided just 75 pounds of whitefish although he requested 500 pounds. "I've never seen it this bad this time of year."

The gefilte fish dish is similar to meat loaf. The fish is typically ground up and combined with onions, carrots, eggs and bread crumbs.

Though available in jars and cans, for some, only fresh homemade will do.

"Just smelling that gefilte fish aroma tells my senses that it's a Jewish holiday," said Jason Miller, a rabbi and director of a kosher food certification agency in West Bloomfield, Mich.

— The Associated Press