Shakshuka - An Ongoing Review

Shakshuka - An Ongoing Review

Abstract

Shakshuka is a Middle-Eastern dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce and spiced with cumin, paprika, and peppers, and is a staple item in any brunch experiences. In this work, we present a recipe on making a Shakshuka that would make the center-piece in a Sunday brunch, which features fresh tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, fried chorizo, and a dash of coconut milk.

I. Introduction

      Before leaving Tel Aviv, I learned from an Israeli grandma on how to make Israeli brunch, which included: Shakshuka, roasted eggplant + tahini, and Israeli Salad. Overall, a lot of sweet and savory memories made with the people and food here.

      Since Tel Aviv, I've sought to recreate the taste, and have made several iterations of Shakshuka (each with slight variations and adjustments). Below is a recipe for my favorite variation, which includes chorizo sausage and a dash of coconut milk. I realized that Shakshuka shares a lot of cooking steps with Indian/Thai curry, in which the only ingredient that stops the Shakshuka from becoming a curry was coconut milk and garam masala. Thus, Shakshuka can be reinterpretted as a very dense curry with very beautiful pepper and tomato flavors. For your brunch needs, if you're only planning on making one dish (Shakshuka), then leaving out the coconut milk and/or optional ingredients can be a good strategy to have a less heavy + more balanced meal.

II. Methodology

Materials

  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil (plus more for drizziling)
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (whole)
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, half thingly sliced and half whole cloves
  • 4-6 peeled tomatoes (blanched)
  • 3 chorizo sausages (cut in even pieces)
  • 1/2 can of coconut milk and garam masala (optional)
  • 9 eggs
  • Spices: cumin, garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper

Directions

1. First, we blanch tomatoes to quickly peel the skin. Prepare both a pot of boiling water and an ice bath. While the water is boiling, cut a cross (about a quarter inch deep) on each tomato. Put tomatoes in boiling water for 2 minutes, than transfer to ice bath quickly. Peel skin, then dice.

2. Roast bell peppers on gas stove until charred. If you don't have a gas stove, you can roast your peppers by putting it in the oven at 500 C for 40 minutes, which will also char your vegetables nicely.

3. Heat a large, deep pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper slices, and jalapeno and spread into an even layer. Roast vegetables until the onion and vegetables caramelize (maillard reaction), about 4 minutes. Add oil, half of your garlic (chopped), and spices, then mix for about 2 minutes.

4. Create a large well to brown your chorizo sausages, then mix. This section is optional, and can be left out to keep it vegetarian.

5. To turn your Shakshuka into a Curry Shakshuka, add 1/2 can of coconut milk, and deglaze the bottom of the pan (optional). Else, skip the coconut milk option and directly add the tomatoes. The water released by the tomatoes can be used to deglaze the bottom. Add the rest of the garlic (whole), and continue to cook (lid over pan) until the tomatoes are fully softened and transform into a thick sauce (about 8 minutes on medium-high). Taste for salt, and adjust if needed.

6. Using a large spoon, make a well and break an egg into the pan. Repeat around the circumference of the pan, leaving the eggs exposed. To create distance between the eggs, push some of the dense mixtures (onion, sausage, peppers, etc...) between the wells. Do not cover, and reduce heat to lowest setting, until egg whites are barely set and yolks are still runny (5-8 minutes). While the eggs are cooking, add cilantro. Optionally, you can also add crumbs of feta cheese.

7. When the eggs are set, season yolks with salt, black pepper, and a dash of paprika. If the eggs have sunk to much to the bottom, you can gently lift up the eggs and push some of the dense mixtures underneath the egg.

8. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro or parsley, along with any of the optional toppings. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

III. Results and Discussion

Tastes pretty good. I am eggstatic with the results XD.

IV. Conclusion

Though results are promising, further work needs to be done to present a methodologically-inclined review on Shakshuka. Future work includes ablation experiments with Feta Cheese and Mushrooms.

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