Unlocking the flavors of Jaffa
Jaffa (pronounced Yafo, spelled יָפוֹ) is one of the oldest ports in the world. It’s right south of Tel Aviv and is actually part of the same municipality, creatively named “Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality“. The last week of my recent trip I was honored to eat tons of food while in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Below I begin describing as best as I can some of the highlights in Jaffa. Get ready to get that stomach growling.
For hummus (חומוס), Itay and Ziv Erlich took me to Abu Hassan. This is a really small yet well known place in Jaffa that opens in the morning and closes when they run out of food, right around 2 P.M. Their extensive menu: Pita. Hummus. Warm Hummus with garlic.
To put this in perspective, it’s like having a restaurant in Mexico where all they serve is refried beans and tortillas. And it’s packed and there are crowds lining up for it and they run out of beans in the middle of the day. It’s unheard of (when it comes to refried beans) and that’s how good it is. It’s awesome.
Click to keep on reading. It’s worth your while.
After eating nothing but hummus, you have to wash it down with some coffee and some baklawa. The coffee, of course, turkish style. The MKX® readers already know that back in Austin I have access to lots of this black delicacy ever since we installed The Coffice at work.
Baklawa, the Arab pastry, you can also find here, but like Tex-Mex tacos… it’s not quite the same as the real deal. I will let you stare in awe at this photo I took at a bakery in Jaffa. When I saw this, I was hit with dreamy images of myself swimming in baklawa. Like Scrooge McDuck would swim in his money, only a lot stickier.
Shakshuka (שקשוקה), like bureka, is a fun word to say over and over. It’s also delicious. Being a (very, they say) spicy dish, it appeals a lot to my insensitive Mexican taste buds. Like many dishes, it’s not hard to make, but pretty hard to make right. To unlock the secret, we went to Dr. Shakshuka which is right by the shuk (market).
The basic recipe is: make a thick sauce with tomatoes, peppers, spices, garlic, onions, etc. Put them all in a pan until it’s boiling. Then throw some eggs in there. The shakshuka I ordered also had lamb meat. Because everything tastes better when there is lamb meat in it.
Finally, let me present a video in which you can see Dr. Shakshuka’s small and delicate hands making shakshuka. Based on his technique alone, I concluded that the man was trained in the finest culinary schools of Paris. If you are a local Austin resident and want to make shakshuka, please watch this video, learn it, and invite me over. Thank you so much. So very very much. For those of you who might be in a hurry, skip to 4:15 to see how the eggs part is done.
It’s not over yet… Israeli culinary wonders 4 coming soon.
Update Nov 11 2008: Some people have asked about the full recipe. While I’m sure there is no one recipe for shakshuka, here’s the one supposedly used by Dr. Shakshuka. Yep, the red powder appears to be paprika.