Shakshuka – Mastering Spice

At its core, shakshuka is eggs cooked in a simmering sauce. It’s one of Israel’s most popular dishes, and I grew up eating it at least once a week. I’ve taken this one-pan meal and come up with endless variations for the sauce and its uses. And remember that you don’t have to use up all the sauce at once. You can reheat only as much as you want to eat, whether it’s enough sauce for one egg, two, or more. Shakshuka is delicious any time of the day. no matter what, be sure to have some challah, flatbreads, or other bread on hand. You’ll want it to swipe up the sauce.

Recipe by Lior Lev Sercarz, from “Mastering Spice” by Lior Lev Sercarz

Serves 6

Make Ahead
Before the eggs are added, the tomato sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Bring it back to a simmer in a sauté pan before adding the eggs. If the mixture has thickened, add a little water. The sauce should be as loose as when you first finished cooking it.

Spice Blend
Savory celery seeds combine with the heat of chipotle and sweetness of paprika in a classic tomato and pepper shakshuka sauce, and the toasty aroma of coriander seeds helps all those seasonings work together.

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (4 grams)
1 teaspoon celery seeds (2 grams)
1⁄4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (1⁄2 gram)
2 teaspoons sweet paprika (4 grams)

Finely grind the coriander and celery seeds together and immediately mix with the chipotle and paprika.

Extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
Kosher salt
2 red bell peppers, very thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Challah, pita, or other bread, for serving

1. To make the shakshuka: Coat a large sauté pan (a straight-sided skillet) with oil (2 to 3 tablespoons). Set over medium heat and add the spice blend and garlic. Cook, stirring, until sizzling and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add the shallots, season with salt, and stir well. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the red and green bell peppers, stir well, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the tomato paste, raise the heat to medium, and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and season to taste with salt.

4. Adjust the heat so the sauce maintains a steady simmer. Crack the eggs on top, spacing them apart. Cover and cook to your desired preference. I like my whites set and yolks runny, which takes 6 to 7 minutes. If you’re not serving this right away, remember that the eggs will continue to cook in the sauce’s residual heat. Serve with bread.