American cuisine can sometimes limit the versatility of the miraculous egg. Here in the states, eggs are traditionally a breakfast commodity – though they do make rare appearances on burgers and in hard-boiled form on salads. If there is a singular dish to be found which invokes the true capabilities of the egg, however, we must look to the middle east.
Shakshouka is a dish popular in Arabic and Jewish communities and nations. Its basic elements are eggs poached in a tomato-base sauce. The eggs sit atop the sauce, solid, yet not solid and giving the whole dish a golden crown, or several, depending on the size of the pan or pot. The effect is more like a sunny-side up egg than your traditional poached egg cooked in water.
Instead of the yolk being wrapped up in a fluffy blanket of egg white, the yolk rests centered inside the spread-out whites.
Specific techniques for the dish vary somewhat, but some standardized elements involved in the flavoring of the sauce include chili peppers, garlic, paprika, and cumin. Some use wine in the sauce and some do not, but the result is simply a familiar-looking and tasting tomato sauce, which frequently starts with sautéed vegetables and a tomato base.
The etymology of Shakshouka the word comes from Arabic and effectively boils down to slang and linguistic variations on the concepts of shaking, mixing, and binding. It’s fitting, if you think about it, as the eggs can do what they do thanks to their famous ability to work as a binding ingredient while still retaining much of their own form separately from the ingredients the eggs bind with.
Geologically and culturally, Shakshouka is believed to originate from Libya or Tunisia. The North African meal can include meat, but it is most commonly served today in countries like Israel in such a way to accommodate egg-eating vegetarian diets. And, despite it’s egg-forward presentation and protein-rich surface, Shakshouka is popular for evening meals as well as for breakfast.
For best results and simplest preparation, the sauce is typically prepared to taste, and then the eggs are gently placed on top so that they do not sink or run all over the place. It is important that the eggs not go in until the sauce has been thoroughly stirred and seasoned, as the entire dish can not be disturbed once the eggs have been opened and added to it.
As for the runniness of the eggs, these can be done to the liking of those eating them, though achieving the perfect poach in the tomato sauce may be trickier than some find it to be normally when using water and vinegar. For larger yields, the dish can also be done as a casserole in the oven rather than on the stovetop.
But, before you try to make it at home, you should probably figure out what the perfect Shakshouka looks, smells, and tastes like! For your convenience, we have featured this popular dish on our special brunch menu
here at Atlas Steakhouse! Whether this will be your first time trying it or if Shakshouka is an old favorite of yours, we can guarantee outstanding, classic flavor in a contemporary environment
Swing by next time you are in our area for brunch, or make a reservation
for your next dinner adventure! See you soon at Atlas Steakhouse!