I visited Caplansky's Deli yesterday for the first round of Battle of the Bubbies. The place was jam packed with about a dozen competitors, who brought their best matzoh balls, and their boisterous supporters. The competition was a double celebration of the end of Rosh Hashanah and the one year anniversary of Caplansky's at their current College Street location.
The balls were judged by a panel based on two categories: fluffy and "cannonball", according to their density. The place was a zoo, so I only got to sample two examples of the balls. Believe it or not, I'd never had matzoh ball soup before this day, so it was a cool introduction to this Jewish take on dumplings.
The two I got to try were of the fluffy variety. Both also had bits of parsley in them, but interestingly, the herb didn't add much of it's distinct flavour. The flavour in the balls comes instead from the chicken broth. I definitely have to try the soup again when it's hot. I'm also dying to try a denser cannonball style just to see the difference. I have a feeling they'd be closer to the Trini dumplings my mother would make for her soups, which I love. I'd compare the density of the fluffies more to a decent gnocchi, though somewhat lumpier.
If you'd like to try your hand at making matzoh balls for your own chicken soup, there are endless varieties of recipes available online. I would guess there are as many ways to make them as there are bubbies. This one I found on the Jewish Magazine site.
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 4 tablespoons of ice cold water
- 1 cup matza meal
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoons of pepper
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. After mixing refrigerate for one hour covered in the refrigerator, (where else?).
Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water and one teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. The matza balls will expand in the pot as they cook, so choose a large pot to allow for expansion. After the water comes to a boil, reduce the flame to low. Take the mixture out from the refrigerator and in your hand gently make the balls. Make sure that your hands are wet before proceeding to make the balls. Slowly add the newly formed balls to the hot water.
Cook for thirty minutes, then turn off fire, but keep the pot covered and let it cool for another ten minutes.
Store the matza balls in your refrigerator until Passover. The morning before Passover make the traditional chicken soup. However, do not add the matza balls to the soup until a half hour before serving. Serve one or two balls in each soup bowl (together with the soup, of course).
Got too many matza balls? Don't worry, during the week, the left over matza balls taste delicious re-heated in the soup. Or for a delicious treat, try slicing them up and then frying them in oil.