It’s funny I’m always asked “what is my favorite dish or cuisine to make?” My answer is always I don’t know yet, I love the challenge of making something I’ve never made before. The benefit is, not going to culinary school, I have’t made a lot of things. Something that i would like to do more is take requests from all of you and try those dishes myself and share the results. Recently our friend Steph asked for a recipe for Middle Eastern classic Shakshuka, so Steph this one is for you.
What is Shakshuka you ask? As few writers say, “did someone sneeze, is it a lost martial art, or the name of a comic book hero?” It does sound like it could be any of those lol. In arabic the word Shakshuka directly translates to “a mixture.” I would be surprised if many people haven’t at least heard of the dish, it tends to be a popular image surculating on pinterest. If you show someone the image they will at least say they’ve seen it i’m sure. It’s definitely one that i’ve pinned and wanted to try for awhile, so I was very happy for this challenge.
With an origin stemming from North Africa, it has become a stable food of many Middle Eastern countries. The dish has many different variations in Libyan, Egyptian, Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan, Jordanian, Yemeni, and Iraqi cultures. Most of the varieties have a staple base of vegetarian ingredients, but some can include meat and cheeses. It is a one pot, kitchen sink type of dish. Whatever you have available in your fridge or pantry can be thrown into it. It’s a good chance to let you creativity run wild. The only key to this recipe that you need to remember is that it is eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. Annnnnnnnnd break, have at it!
Buzzfeed actually created a list of the “26 Reasons Shakshuka is The Most Perfect Food,” if we didn’t need more of a reason to try it. Here are a few key take aways that i had taken from this list and other articles of why Shakshuka should be one of the next dishes that you try.
- If you like Huevos Rancheros, you’ll love this!
- It is very easy to make
- The recipe is so basic, use it as a guideline. You can add whatever you want to it.
- Its cheap
- Its healthy
- Its a one pan meal making cleanup and needed space limited. So great for a college student, someone living in a closet like NYC apartment, or a person with limited cooking skills
- The cooking of it is like watching the science of cooking right before your eyes
- Its a great meal for one, or for many. Easily adjustable
- There are variations where the yolk is runny or the eggs are scrambled in.
- It is a camping friendly dish, shout out to all of my outdoorsy friends
- Though its a breakfast dish it can easily be served at any point of the day
- The dish looks elegant, giving all of my beginner cooks a easy dish to impress your loved ones or the social media world
- Between the runny eggs and the delicious sauce it is a bread or pita friendly dish
With there being so many variations from the different cultures, there are a lot of options for recipes on online. I enjoyed both the interpretations from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats for his detailed descriptions of the trial and errors of their tests for their recipe, and Tori Avey of Toriavey.com for the story behind her recipe. A few tips that I took from Kenji’s post that I thought would make this recipe more approachable for beginner cooks were:
- You can use fresh tomatoes, but expect them to take longer to break down. So use canned whole peeled tomatoes, they’ll break down easier than the diced variety. The diced tomatoes are packed with extra calcium chloride which helps them keep their shape, even after extended cooking.
- Let the sauce simmer and thicken to make the sauce have a richer tomato flavor. This prevents you from needing to add tomato paste, one less ingredient needed.
- You can do the whole dish on the stove top. When you add the eggs to the sauce that you’ve prepared, just cover with a tight fitting top. No oven or broiler needed.
So lets dive in, shall we? I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do and remember to always #stayhungry! And if you have any other recipes you want us to try or tips that you want to know don’t hesitate to comment or email us!
In a large, deep skillet or straight sided sauté pan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the onion, bell pepper and jalapeño.
Sauté, without moving, until the vegetables are deeply browned on the bottom, nearly charred in certain spots. Stir and repeat until the vegetables are fully softened, about 6-10 minutes.
Add in the garlic and cook, stirring until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add in the spices. Stir to coat the vegetables and the spices release their oils and become fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add in the tomatoes and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and half of the chopped cilantro.
Using a large spoon create a little hole for each egg that you will be adding into the dish. Crack the egg one by one into the holes that you made.
Spoon a little of the sauce over the whites of each egg to help them cook a little more evenly and keep them in place. Season each egg with salt and pepper.Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cook the eggs until the white are barely set and the yolk is still runny (if you want your eggs to be more firm just cook it longer), 5 to 8 minutes.
When ready to serve top with the remaining cilantro (and any other toppings you would like) and serve with crusty bread, pita or just on its own.