On my weekly trip to the Food Coop the other morning, I ran into an old friend and neighbor, Barry Strugatz*, who mentioned that the filmmaker and web-cooking-show host Tamra Davis had recently posted a matzo brei recipe on her site.
Barry and I have a special bond over matzo brei. Months and months ago, he wrote a guest post for me about it, and I never got around to running it. Every so often he would remind me, and I would promptly forget. He reminded me again when I saw him. Here it is:
Matzo Brei is about as simple as a recipe gets. Very elemental. Ingredients:
matzo, egg, water. And some butter for the pan.
Matzo Brei is an Ashkenazi (European) Jewish dish combining eggs and matzo, cracker-like unlevened bread. It can be made scrambled or in a pancake. It’s usually a breakfast dish.
While theologians and historians date matzo back to the Exodus almost 3,000 years ago, the origins of matzo brei are much more mysterious. Theories abound. More research needs to be done.
My grandparents immigrated to New York from the Russian countryside in the early 1900’s. This recipe was passed down but I don’t know from who.
I can’t remember who taught this to me, my mother or father. My mother was an amazing chef. She could cook any cuisine with painstaking perfection. My father only occasionally cooked a few dishes: steak, salami&eggs, knockwurst and matzo brei. I guess matzo brei was the healthiest food in his repetoire.
Culinarily speaking there are two kinds of Jews. Sweet or salty. The sweet people like their foods – noodle puddings, knishes, matzo brei -- laced with sugar, cinnamon, raisins, fruit or jelly.
The others have a taste for salt. My family is in this group. We even dispensed with syrup on our french toast. We ate it just with salt. But sometimes after salting up a matzo brei we ate it with applesauce.
One unorthodox practice I sometimes engage in is a side of bacon.
My kids like matzo brei but they’ve never made it.
Maybe after reading this they’ll give it a try, and pass it down through future ages.
Barry Strugatz's Matzo Brei (one serving)
- 1 egg
- 2 sheets of matzo. Any type matzo will do. Streit’s Moonstrips (onion and poppy) are a favorite.
- 1 tbsp butter.
In a bowl scramble one egg. Salt and pepper optional.
Take two sheets of matzo and briefly moisten under running cold water.
Shake off or blot excess water.
Crumble matzo into pieces, not too big, not too small.
Mix in bowl with the eggs, till all the matzo is coated.
Put into hot buttered frying pan.
If you choose to scramble, do so, until it’s done to your taste.
Or if you prefer, with a spatula tamp the matzo down into a pancake. When the edges start to brown flip it over. I like a crunchy crust on the outside, moist on the inside.
Salt lightly and serve.
When I saw him, Barry mentioned that Tamra had made a video. He sent me the link. The video features her children (as well as a cameo from her husband, the Beastie Boys’ Mike D), and I think it’s charming:
But Barry, had a few things to say about her recipe: “She's welcome to her version and God bless her bubby (grandma) but I think it's a little farkakt (screwed up). Her ratio of 1 egg to 1 matzo is way too eggy. This is more like scrambled eggs with some matzo pieces thrown in. Also the printed recipe is even more meshuge (crazy): 2 eggs to 1 matzo!!! All my grandparents were Russian peasants, maybe eggs were more scarce in their parts, but I think 1 egg to 2 matzos tastes much better"
My mother’s Irish, and I don’t know a thing about matzo brei. How do you prefer yours?
*Barry Stugatz is a writer and a director. His credits include “Married to the Mob,” and “She-Devil and From Other Worlds.” He has two daughters, Emma and Molly, ages 21 and 14. He cooks for them maybe once a week, but offers to more often. He is still waiting for them to make him breakfast in bed.