Thankfully, this post is much lighter than my post from earlier in the week. Little David was brought out from under sedation on Tuesday. He’s suffering from seizures, but the doctors think it’s just his brain rebooting. Please continue to keep him, my sister, and my BIL in your prayers! In the meantime, we need to eat! Recently, I’ve been on a Middle Eastern kick. More so an Israeli kick, but most of the recipes come from various countries around the Middle Eastern region. This Sabich bowl is one of those recipes that makes me pat myself on the back.
Sabich is a decidedly Jewish sandwich, created, and brought to Israeli, by an Iraqi Jew. The sandwich was created to sustain Jews through the Sabbath (as there is no cooking allowed on their holy day). The sandwiches are filled with fried eggplant slices and an egg hard-boiled in Cholent, a traditional beef and barley stew. Sabich sandwiches aren’t one of the neatest foods I’ve eaten- I found that to be so after my first bite of one. My dear friend, Abergil, introduced me to sabich in NYC. Customizing my sandwich, and thereby loading it down with toppings, was all fun and games until it was time to take a bite. Veteran sabich eaters know there’s an unspoken stance to assume when going in for the kill. I was still wet behind the ears. A second sandwich was purchased after my first met its doom on the Brooklyn sidewalk.
Since I’m not a fan of high-maintence eating, I decided to create a neater sabich. A bowl was introduced into the fray and I kept all of my favorite ingredients. Even the pita remained, it was just…well, not as annoying.
As I mentioned, sabich sandwiches are primarily filled with sliced eggplant and hard-boiled egg. My version is very customizable, and I include a wide variety of textures, tastes, and colors. The eggplant and eggs are still headliners, but I’ve added a few co-stars as well. Unlike the traditional sabich, however, my hard-boiled eggs aren’t stewed in the cholent. This is for no other reason than I just don’t think it’s worth the time unless I’m already making the stew.
The key ingredient for sabich is eggplant- aubergine, for my non-U.S. buddies. Eggplant is perfect for cooking when its skin is firm and smooth. Any wrinkles or soft spots and the eggplant has ripened too much. These days, eggplants need minimal prep to become an amazing ingredient in any dish. It’s bulk and heartiness makes it a perfect substitute for meat. In our case, for the sabich, all we need to do is rinse it clean, pat it dry and slice it thin.
First, I cut the end of the eggplant off to get rid of any woody stems, or leaves. If you have a mandoline feel free to use that to cut your slices. Me? I’m an old-fashioned type of chick so my chef’s knife is all I need.
Cut your eggplant into very thin (about an eight of an inch thick) slices. Don’t worry too much if they’re not perfectly uniform, you just don’t want extreme differences in the thickness of the slices.
Once you’ve thinly sliced your eggplant, you’re ready to quickly deep-fry them for the sabich bowls. Heat your corn, or vegetable oil, over med-high heat. A deep-fat frying thermometer should read 360°-375°F. Prior to dropping your first slices, prepare your draining station by lining a sheet pan with a generous layer of absorbent paper towels. Eggplant loves to soak up oils and sauces, so proper frying temperature and immediate, thorough draining are essential.
Once you’re all prepped, drop an eggplant slice into your oil. This will be your test slice to see about how long the frying time should be. Since slices may vary, you need a general guide before you start frying up the batches. This will go pretty quickly because of how thin they are. After about a minute, or two, flip the slice to fry the other side. The total frying time should be no longer than five minutes, or until golden brown. Once you have determined your approximate frying time, drop a few slices of eggplant into the oil. Try not to crowd your pan as that lowers the temperature and causes the slices to boil in oil, rather than fry.
Transfer the fried eggplant slices from the oil to your draining station using a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon. These tools help to drain the oil from the eggplant instead of carrying it with them. Allow the fried eggplant slices to drain while you continue frying your next batch of slices.
Before your next batch is removed from the oil, salt the slices that are currently draining on the sheet pan. Transfer the salted slices to a holding dish for adding to the sabich bowls later. Continue frying, draining, and salting until all of the eggplant slices are cooked.
In between frying the batches of eggplant slices, bring a large pot of water to a boil. As soon as the water reaches a boil, carefully lower your eggs into the water and simmer for nine minutes. You’ll need as many eggs as people you are serving. For my family of four, I typically serve two boiled eggs per bowl, which means I hard-boil eight eggs. If you don’t have egg-lovers, one egg per person is fine. After nine minutes, drain the water from the pot and refill it with cold water. Allow the eggs to cool for ten minutes before peeling.
Now for the fun part; it’s time to assemble our sabich bowls! Like I mentioned earlier, the great thing about this recipe is how customizable and easy it is to put together. You can purchase your accompaniments pre-made, or make your own using the links below. I’m sure you know which I’d recommend, but I understand that life is real thing. No matter which route you take, make sure you’re using high-quality ingredients to build your bowls.
Obviously, the first thing you’ll need are your bowls. One bowl per person, unless you’re all romantical and whatnot. Hector and I don’t play when it comes to our food, so we don’t get down with that sharing mess. He gets his, I gets mine, and the Twinks get theirs. That’s how we prevent domestic disturbances up in here.
Start with your grain. My grain of choice for these sabich bowls is my Tabbouleh (Bulgur Parsley Salad). Typically, I make my tabbouleh with twice the amount of parsley; however, if I know I’m going to use it in my sabich bowls, I use a lighter herb hand. One to one-and-a-half cups of tabbouleh is perfect for each bowl.
Some other grain ideas for your bowls are:
- white or brown rice
Now add hummus. This Middle Eastern Hummus recipe gets rave reviews, but you can certainly purchase yours pre-made. Baba ganoush, which is an eggplant spread that’s similar to hummus, is a great substitute- especially if you love eggplant.
Sabich sandwiches are often filled with a variety of veggies for added texture. I am a huge fan of English cucumbers, so I dice one and top my tabbouleh with it.
Other items that are great for crunch are:
- sweet peppers
- toasted nuts
Now add those crisp eggplant slices. Eggplant slices taste like a unique potato chip. So much so, our girl Twink ended up sneaking off with the leftover eggplant slices and devouring them. They’re not only great for this recipe, but perfect for an afternoon snack.
Every sabich sandwich I’ve had included copious amounts of shredded cabbage. I think it was to bulk up the sandwich on the cheap. While I won’t cheat myself of the real reason I came to this party, I do like to include shredded cabbage. I just purchase the pre-shredded bags of cabbage in my grocer’s produce section instead of wasting time shredding my own, though.
Here are some alternatives to shredded cabbage:
- shredded iceberg or romaine (IF it’s not contaminated with E. Coli)
- baby spinach leaves
- shredded purple cabbage
To switch things up, add a pop of color and texture with pomegranate arils! These are now available in the produce aisle all ready to go. I use these in place of diced tomatoes for their sweetness and crunch.
Some substitutes are:
- diced tomatoes
- sliced sweet peppers
- diced granny smith apples
- sliced grapes
Tahini Sauce is a must for sabich and as is feta. While you could buy your tahini sauce from the store, my recipe is ready in five minutes which means making it at home is a lot faster. Feta is a salty, briny cheese that is very popular in Middle Eastern dishes. If you want to try something different, labneh (another Middle Eastern cheese) is a great substitute. You can also omit the cheese altogether and make this a vegan dish.
Now, we can’t go forgetting our hard-boiled eggs! Slice them up, cut them in half, or leave them whole- it’s up to you. Add one or two eggs to each bowl.
The final, and most exciting, ingredient (at least for me) is Amba Sauce. Amba is a pickled mango chutney. My sabich bowls are heavily-doused with this stuff; it’s that good. It gives the bowl a sweet-savory-umami vibe that just has to be experienced at least once in everyone’s lives. You can purchase it, but once again, making it results in more flavor and enjoyment.
The last addition to my sabich bowls are my Egyptian Falafel. If you just have to stay true to the Israeli theme, you can make these falafel with chickpeas instead of fava beans. I don’t mind shaking things up a bit, so these fried fava patties are going in mine.
If you want to sub out the falafel try:
- fried firm tofu
- diced cooked chicken breast
- lamb meatballs
- grilled salmon
All you need now is a side dish filled with toasted pita bread!
Seriously? Doesn’t this bright Sabich Bowl make you want to lick your screen? Go ahead and do it. I triple-dog dare you!!
There’s nothing better for large crowds of people than these bowls. Set out all of your ingredients and let your family and friends customize their own bowls. Pin this recipe for your next Spring or Summer soiree and share it with your friends and family!
Yield 4 servings
These bowls are great for large crowds. Create a buffet with all of the ingredients and let your guests customize their own bowls. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for those larger appetites.
corn or vegetable oil, for frying
1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
4-8 eggs (depending on your preference)
water, for boiling the eggs
6 cups homemade or store-bought prepared Tabbouleh
2-4 cups homemade or store-bought Hummus
2 cups pomegranate arils
1 English cucumber, small diced
2 cups (about 6 oz) shredded green cabbage
2 cups homemade or store-bought Tahini Sauce
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2- 2 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought Amba Sauce, optional
16 pieces of Egyptian Falafel, or 2lbs cooked protein, diced
toasted pita bread, for serving
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil over med-high heat. A deep-fat frying thermometer should read 360°-375°F. Prepare a draining station by lining a sheet pan with a layer of absorbent paper towels.
- Test an eggplant slice to see how long the frying time should be, since slices' thicknesses may vary. After about a minute, or two, flip the slice to fry the other side. The total frying time should be no longer than five minutes, or until golden brown. Once you have determined your approximate frying time, drop a few slices of eggplant into the oil.
- Transfer the fried eggplant slices from the pan using a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon. Continue frying your next batch of slices. Before your next batch is removed from the oil, salt the slices that are draining on the sheet pan. Transfer the salted slices to a bowl. Continue frying, draining, and salting until all of the eggplant slices are cooked.
- While the eggplant slices are frying, bring a large pot of water to a boil. As soon as the water reaches a boil, carefully lower the eggs into the water and simmer for nine minutes. Drain the water from the eggs and refill the pot with cold water. Allow the eggs to cool for ten minutes before peeling.
To assemble the sabich bowls:
- Add one to one-and-a-half cups of Tabbouleh (Bulgur Parsley Salad) to each bowl.
- Now scoop a half cup to one cup of Middle Eastern Hummus.
- Follow those with the a generous handful of the fried eggplant slices and a half-cup of pomegranate arils, a quarter-cup of diced cucumber, and a half-cup of cabbage.
- Pour a half-cup of Tahini Sauce onto each prepared bowl and sprinkle a quarter-cup of crumbled feta cheese on top of each.
- Slice the hard-boiled eggs and add one or two to each bowl. Top each bowl with a half cup of Amba Sauce.
- Finally, add four pieces of Egyptian Falafel to each bowl. Serve with a side of toasted pita bread and enjoy!
Cuisine Israeli/Middle Eastern
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