“Sababa” Crispy Sesame Schnitzel (Faith Kramer)
“Sababa” Crispy Sesame Schnitzel (Faith Kramer)

Schnitzel and omelets from 2 zesty Israeli cookbooks

Two cookbooks inspired by Israeli’s famed food markets have been released in time for Hanukkah gift giving and menu planning: “Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking” by Einat Admony and Janna Gur and “Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen” by Adeena Sussman.

Both use traditional ingredients in unexpected ways and give new twists to old standards.

The books complement each other and show the depth of creativity, complexity and flavor that has arisen from Israel’s culinary mix. Both are filled with photographs and information on ingredients and techniques.

“Shuk” gives readers a cook’s tour of Israel’s famed markets, including Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem, Carmel Market in Tel Aviv and Wadi Nisnas in Haifa. “Sababa” focuses on the glories of the Carmel Market. Both books are packed with dishes suitable for Hanukkah, which begins Dec. 22 this year, including these two recipes.

“Sababa” Crispy Sesame Schnitzel

Serves 4

  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt, divided, plus extra for seasoning
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper, divided, plus extra for seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 small boneless and skinless chicken breast halves, each about 6 oz. (see note)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, plus more as needed

Mix dried breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, sesame seeds, ½ tsp. sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, ¼ tsp. black pepper and cayenne in shallow bowl. Place eggs in second shallow bowl. In a third bowl, stir together flour, ½ tsp. sea salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper.

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place each piece between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pound lightly with mallet until thickness is ⅛ inch to ¼ inch. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Dredge cutlets in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, shaking off excess after each step. Press crumbs in firmly. Place in single layer on tray. Wait 30 minutes before frying.

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until hot but not smoking. Work in batches, adding more oil as needed. Fry 2 cutlets at a time until golden brown and crisp (2 to 3 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Note: If breasts are very thick, slice horizontally into 2 or 3 thinner cutlets before seasoning with salt and pepper.

“Shuk” Little Herb Omelets

Makes 8 omelets

  • 5 medium eggs, or 4 large
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (see note)
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • ½ cup finely chopped dill
  • 1 very small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Tahini or yogurt for garnish

Crack eggs into large bowl, add flour turmeric, cumin, chili and salt. Whisk until foamy. Add parsley, cilantro, green onions, dill and onion. Mix well.

Heat oils in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour ⅓ cup batter for each omelet into hot pan. The batter will spread, so work in batches. Fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden, and then transfer to platter lined with paper towels. If needed, add more oil to pan. Serve warm with a dollop of tahini.

Note: Different brands of kosher salt have different densities, meaning the same volume will yield different levels of saltiness. “Shuk” authors use Diamond Crystal. Morton, also widely available, is made differently and will taste saltier. If using Morton’s, use ½ tsp. and fry a Tbs. of batter. Taste. Add more salt to batter if needed.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at clickblogappetit@gmail.com.