When you inevitably begin to make your list for brunch contenders this weekend, you might consider throwing a different set of criteria in the mix. Rather than just going for eggs, bacon, and bottomless mimosas, why not head out for a taste of Israeli comfort food in the form of shakshuka.
Shock-shoe-kuh. Let the word roll off the tongue. Let the idea of eggs steamed into a smoky tomato sauce with peppers, onions, and some tahini seduce you. Over in Israel, it’s as common as a hamburger and fries. It’s comfort food. And here in Miami, it’s gaining traction.
“For me, shakshuka is typical Israeli breakfast food,” says Zak Stern, owner of Zak the baker. “It’s wholesome, warm, country-style eggs dropped into tomato sauce, served with tahini, and some pita. Simple.” And rest assured, paired with Zak the Baker’s highly-acclaimed baked goods, warm eggs and tomato have never tasted so good.
Although shakshuka isn’t as ubiquitous in Miami as perhaps paleo and gluten-free options, there are a decent number of restaurants in regions across the city that are serving it. Up in North Miami, Etzel Itzik does a version that Yelp users dub as “fantastic.” In the growing 79th street restaurant district, Yasmine Kotb, chef / owner of Mina’s does her take on the dish, too.
“We’re from Egypt. It’s a typical middle eastern egg dish,” says Kotb, speaking of her version of the dish. “It’s my mother’s recipe. It’s got garlic, peppers, tomatoes, a bit of jalapeño, paprika, cumin. It’s very flavorful.” Mina’s makes their own bread to go with the dish, too, which we found Kotb making prior to our recent interview.
Ready for breakfast yet?
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If the dish already sounds appealing, but you, like many intrepid diners, want to push things to the limit, then head to the Vagabond. There they’re serving a meatier version, with a rabbit merguez sausage and fermented tomato flatbread. Innovation aside, shakshuka remains a basic breakfast staple.
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Zak Stern said, when asked if Zak the Baker put any special touches on theirs. “Shakshuka is simple. Eggs in a nice, smoky marinara. It should always be simple.”
With meat or without, your weekend brunch ante just got upped. As with many a regional specialty, we can only expect that the popularity of Shakshuka will begin to rise around Miami as word gets out of its splendor.