Technically, shakshuka is just poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce, but that’s like saying pizza is just some dough with cheese and tomato.
Like pizza, there’s good shaksuka, awful shaksuka and Oh-my-God-this-is-awesome shakshuka. If you want the best (but really…the best) you’d go to the Mecca (that might be the wrong word here) of shakshuka: Dr. Shakshuka in the old Arab port city of Jaffa, Israel. The Doctor throws down insanely good homestyle Libyan food. If you’re in Tel Aviv and you don’t talk a stroll over, you missed something incredible.
Dr. Shakshuka happens to be my father-in-law’s brother-in-law. My father-in-law is Dr. Devash, the coolest biotech supergenius, pioneering HIV researcher, killer blues and classical guitar player you’ll ever meet. Sinatra’s “My Way” should be playing wherever he goes. He lives life the way he wants to, and whenever my wife and I are debating whether to travel or stay home and be boring, I ask “what would your dad do?’ and we’re getting sunburned in Barcaloneta.
With all those advanced degrees in shakshuka wizardry, you’d think I could rock one out. Hell yeah I can.
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
1 red pepper, small dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 lbs. tomatoes, diced (use a 27oz can of diced tomatoes if you can’t find ripe ones)
¼ C tomato paste
2 t ground cumin
1 t black pepper
2 t salt
1 t smoked or sweet paprika
¼ t crushed red (or Aleppo or Cayenne) pepper
2 T honey
Chopped parsley for garnish
2 T Cream Cheese (the Tom Devash Option)
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, garlic and pepper. Stir to coat and cook until it smells super garlicky (5 mins)
Add the tomatoes and mash them up a little with a fork or potato masher, then stir the tomato paste in. Let that cook down for 7 minutes.
Add the spices all at once and mix thoroughly. Add cream cheese if using.
Crack your eggs right into the skillet. Spread them out evenly, giving them space to poach
Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and let it cook for 10-12 minutes. You should have beautifully poached eggs in a delicious tomato sauce.
Make it pretty with parsley. Serve it with pita or a baguette, or do it Sicilian way: cook 4oz. dry pasta and top with the eggs and sauce.
I borrowed the image from theshiksa.com. Mine looked just like that, but I must have erased it to make room for pictures of Paris street art and Gaudi buildings. Her site is awesome, check it out.