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12 March 2006

Knaidlach

I promised in my post on chicken soup to include a post on what you can add to it.  So here we are.

I'm not sure why there is a tradition across numerous cuisines of putting some sort of carbohydrate solid into soup - think croutons, noodles and dumplings - but there is definitely a theme.  I would assume it's a good way of adding substance to a product that might otherwise appear measly.  Very often, those dishes that call specifically for some such addition are the thinner, brothier kinds of soups that tend to be associated with home or street food, rather than haute cuisine.  Chicken soup is no exception, with its addition of knaidlach.

There are two schools of cooking knaidlach, there is the depth-charge and there is the light as feather, float like a butterfly version.  Being difficult, my preference is for somewhere in the middle.  I like to know that I'm eating something, but I don't like the associated heartburn.  The recipe I enjoy most is that which I grew-up with and that Silverbrowess has taken on as her own (we can thank her for providing the recipe below).

The secret to this recipe are the fried onions - an essential part of ashkenazi cooking - that add a depth and smokiness to the balls of delight.  The recipe is simple, straightforward and quick.  This recipe doesn't include the addition of schmaltz (chicken fat) but feel free to cook the onions in it.  You'll love it, your cardiologist won't.

This recipe should give you approximately 15 golf-ball sized knaidlach.   

  • 115g matzo meal    
  • 250ml boiling water    
  • 1 onion - diced    
  • 1 egg - lightly beaten

Fry the onion so it turns a deep golden brown but be careful not to let it burn. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine the matzo meal, the boiling water, the egg, salt & pepper. Add the onions.  Put the mixture in the fridge to expand slightly and settle.  Just prior to serving the soup, remove the mixture from the fridge and roll into golf-ball sized balls.  Try not to be heavy handed as you'll end up with heavy balls (ooer missus).

Place the balls in the pot of hot soup.  They will take less than a minute to cook through if the soup is close to boiling.  Don't let them sit in the soup for too long as they will disintegrate and can turn the soup cloudy.  Some people cook the balls in boiling water and add to the soup only in the individual balls.  I think you lose some of the flavour doing it this way.

Although this is the last word in knaidlach recipes, knaidlach are not the last word in chicken soup additions.  There are also kreplach (tortellini stuffed with chicken livers) and lokschen (sliced omelette) but we can save those for another day.

You may have seen the photo below previously, apologies for that.  But it demonstrates the knaidlach in all its carbohydrate glory.

Chicken_soup_1

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I can personally vouch for this Knaidlach recipe Mr Silverbrow gave me the recipe and they delighted all my guests on Friday night.

Gastrochick
Pleased you and your guests enjoyed it.

I've had a few queries regarding the addition of fried onion, which is considered by some to be a radical departure. I believe it is a Dutch tradition - I say that because the recipe as far as I'm aware comes from my grandmother, who's family were Dutch. For any purists/sceptics out there, I recommend the onions - you'll kick yourself that you've been missing out on this for so long.

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