While cooking, listen to this: Ah Ah Ah Ahava - Efrat Gosh
I bet you'd never guess eggplant, mango and hard-boiled eggs go well together. But I'm here to tell you they absolutely do.
Culminating a three day virtual street-food journey through Israel, I'd like to introduce Sabich. Everyone knows about falafel and shwarma. You hardly need to hound the streets of Manahttan for one of these tasty sandwiches –they’re sold on every corner. But this extra-special sandwich, found only in Israel, has made a home for itself at the top of my favorite street eats list. In fact, I'll go as far as saying this is my favorite G | G recipe made to date.
Sabich was brought to Israel by Iraqi Jews who immigrated in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Its etymology is interestingly debated, but either means “morning” in Arabic (it’s actually considered a breakfast sandwich), is a Hebrew acronym, where each letter represents a different ingredient, or is named after the founder of the first Israeli Sabich shop, Sabich Tsvi Halabi. Despite this debate, Sabich is fantastic, however you build it.
My first encounter with Sabich was when I was in Israel with my family. My parents had previously gotten Sabich by accident, and insisted it was life changing. And they were absolutely correct. The beauty of the Israeli sandwich stand is that it’s basically an all-you-can-fit-in-a-pita bread salad bar. I love stuffing my sandwich with cucumber and tomato salad, spicy Israeli pickles, hummus, tahini and, of course, fries. Overstuffed with the tastiest of treats, I remember sitting at a rickety metal table, eating my sandwich in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Though good-quality, store-bought ingredients would suit this sandwich nicely, our home made pita, hummus and amba, really take this sandwich to the next level. You can also add pickled cabbage, marinated onions, purple beets – basically anything that fits in a pita pocket. For easy transport and an authentic Israeli feel, wrap in wax paper before digging in. Bring leftovers to work the next day and pretend your kicking back in the Israeli sunshine.
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Total Cook Time: 45m-1h (there are some components with inactive cook times, but the goal here is to be doing one thing while another thing is cooking, making it active time throughout!)
Category: Main, Sandwiches, Mediterranean
Source: adapted from Serious Eats and inspired by countless sabich stands in Israel
Special Equipment: wok (my favorite for frying, but not a requirement), tongs/chopsticks
Note: there are a lot of components to this sandwich, but with a bit of organization this is super easy to make! The ingredients below go in the order you'll use them, rather than by item. Also, we've made the pita, hummus and amba this week, so look to those recipes to complete your sabich!
Note, part two: this sandwich becomes vegan with the omission of the eggs!
2 plum tomatoes, innards removed and diced
1 medium eggplant, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
Vegetable oil, for frying
5 medium/4 large/however many fries-worth of potatoes you want, cut into fry shapes
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
4 hard-boiled eggs (instructions below)
½ large seedless cucumber, diced
2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
4 pitas, either ripped in half or split at the top to form a pocket, depending on how big you want your sandwich to be
Hummus, for serving
Tahini, for serving
Israeli pickles, for serving (they come in either cans or jars, might be called "Mediterranean pickles" and can be found in most grocery stores)
Amba sauce, for serving
Preheat the oven for the fries: 500F, but 450F will work if this high of heat freaks you out a bit. Spray a cookie sheet with canola oil.
Salt the tomatoes and eggplant: this is to get as much liquid out of the tomatoes and eggplants as possible. For the diced tomatoes, place them in a mesh strainer set over a bowl and generously sprinkle sea salt onto them. For the eggplant, place on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet or plate and salt each round, then put another piece of paper towel on top. Let both the tomatoes and eggplant hang out for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, brush the salt off of the eggplant with a paper towel.
Prepare the fries: place the fries into a heavy-bottomed pot and add enough water so that the potatoes are fully covered, plus an extra 1-inch of water. Add the vinegar (it makes the fries extra crispy) and a good dash of salt, and place on high heat. When the water begins to boil, set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, drain and place the fries back in the pot. Drizzle with olive oil and some salt and give a good toss. Transfer the fries to the baking sheet and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, toss and put back in for another 15 minutes. They're ready once they're lightly golden but not full-on potato chip.
Fry the eggplant: while the fries are baking, heat the vegetable oil in a wok or other heavy-bottomed pan. Use enough so that the eggplant is fully covered. A trick for knowing the oil is hot enough is sticking a wooden spoon into it - when bubbles form around it, the oil is ready to go. Line a tray or large plate with paper towels. Working in batches, place some eggplant rounds into the oil with a pair of tongs or chopsticks. Flip them every couple of minutes so that they brown evenly. When the eggplant rounds are golden on each side, remove and place on the paper-towel-lined surface to drain. Repeat until all of the eggplant is fried.
Prepare the hard-boiled eggs: this method also comes from Serious Eats, and it is pure gold. We prefer firmer yolks for this, but you can definitely do runny yolks if that's your thing. Either way, have a bowl of ice water at the ready. For hard-boiled eggs, pour enough water into a pot that the eggs will be fully submerged. Bring to a boil, carefully place the eggs into the water and boil for 30 seconds exactly. After 30 seconds, cover tightly with a lid, reduce the heat to low (water should be barely simmering), and cook for 11 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pot and place them in the ice water to stop them from cooking, and let them hang out there for at least 15 minutes before you peel them. When adding in and taking out the eggs, DO NOT USE YOUR HANDS. I know that sounds like common sense, but as the old saying goes, it's not that common. Use a ladle or slotted spoon. When you're ready to assemble the sandwich, peel and halve or slice them.
Prepare the Israeli salad: in a medium bowl, toss together the tomato, cucumber, lemon juice and some olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
All together now! time to assemble - take a pita and give it a good shmear of hummus. Add a layer of 2-3 eggplant rounds and drizzle some tahini on top of them. Add the Israeli salad, eggs, fries and Israeli pickles. Drizzle with the amba and more tahini if you like, and take a big-ass bite.
To keep: most of the components will keep well in the fridge individually, like the eggs, amba, Israeli salad, pita and hummus. The eggplant and fries will lose a bit of their goodness but will still taste amazing at room temperature if you need to make them in advance. When you're ready to eat, just assemble everything right before.