Friday, July 11, 2008

About the Tomato Sauce Thingie....

When I first got here (has it already been ten months???), I could not find a simple can of tomato sauce. You know, like Hunt's. It turns out you can't find plain ol' tomato sauce in a can here. Sure, they have all kinds of canned tomatos and tomato purees, but I have yet to see a can of sauce. They do sell the stuff that comes in a jar--like marinara sauce. That costs about 15 shekel, and has more calories and fat than the simple stuff. What is also available is tons and tons of tomato paste, which I didn't really know what to do with, aside from putting a tablespoon in a sauce I make. I gave up trying to find traditional tomato sauce--one of the things I've had to make peace with living here.

But maybe I don't have to.

Last Shabbat, I invited Mazi and her nieces to spent Shabbat at our home. Of course, I invited her mother as well. I love her mother, but I have to admit I had an ulterior motive: she is one of the best cooks on the planet. Mazi's mom was born in Iraq and then emigrated to Israel as a young girl. And I knew that if I invited her to my home, she would have none of the old Ashkenazic standards--well maybe my matzoh balls are acceptable, but really she looks upon Ashkenazic cooking with a sort of disdain. I grew up on her food. Yes, I am the granddaughter of Polish and German Jews and as a kid, I knew exactly what Majedera, Lachim Ajin, Yapra (I think that's how you say it), Kube (YUM!!) and a host of other traditional Sefardic foods were. And don't tell my mom (again?) but I used to eat rice and beans on Pesach. They were religious, and if they could eat it, why couldn't I???

Mazi and her mom arrived here in Modiin about 3:00. By 4 PM, the soup for the Kube was up, the fish was being sauteed, and the sauce for the fish was cooking.

And then I learned something: all that tomato paste? Israelis make sauce out of it by adding some water. DUHHHH!!! As I watched this woman cook, I asked lots of questions. Of course, there are no recipes, but just watching her was a huge help. She made "schug"--basically a Sefardic hot sauce hot enough to clean your sinuses out for the rest of your life. This week, I decided to attempt it myself:

Of course, I tasted it! And it came out really good, almost as good as the original.

If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe:

3 heaping TBS of tomato paste

Mix that with enough water to make it more like a "sauce" consistency (I added about 3/4 of a cup)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

A handful of cilantro, chopped

A pinch of salt

Hot pepper flakes to your liking (I added about 2 teaspoons--we like it HOT!!!!)

Be prepared for some smoke to come out of your ears!

Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom.


Leora said...

Something funny about Israel, unlike in NJ, you can get really good tomatoes much of the year (I think). So you could make such a delicious sauce! But you might miss the bland can taste. Oy. I'm trying to be funny.

Recipe looks good for someone with a cold. Hot stuff and nutrients from the tomatoes.

Shabbat Shalom.

SuperRaizy said...

I'm also an Ashkenazi girl who loves Sephardic food. When I was married, I loved to eat my Iraqi mother-in-law's dishes (and I even learned how to make some of them, although they never came out as good as hers did.)

Stephanie said...

tell me baila, how do you serve that hotsauce? What do you serve it with?

Baila said...


I know, the tomatoes (and most fruits and veggies) here are amazing....maybe you could post a (simple!) tomato sauce recipe (one that can be frozen!)


Sefardic food has much more zing than Ashkenzic food, IMHO. After eating the food at Mazi's house, my mother's cooking seemed so bland.


I put the sauce out at the beginning of the meal with salads, as well as Humus. Israelis just mop the sauce up with some fresh pita. My husband puts the sauce on everything, including fish, rice and soup.

JJ said...

Darn, the computer ate my comment. Just wanted to say that I also had a post planned about that sauce- even have a pic in my camera, but I forgot all about it. Great minds!

We always get it with pita and chummus at a local resto and it's so fresh and delicious that I wanted to blog about it, but forgot.

BTW, have you been watching "Hayored Begadol" (The Biggest Loser)? Big drama on the show last night!

Baila said...


I missed last night's episode. Darn. I'll see if I can watch on the computer. But Jameel got me into "serugim", on Monday nights at nine on Yes Israel.

Leora said...

Baila, I'll put up a tomato sauce recipe in August, when, hopefully, my garden tomatoes are ripe.

The easiest way to prepare a sauce is to pour boiling hot water on the tomatoes. When it's cool enough to touch, the peels should come off easily. Chop 'em up and add other stuff, as desired: basil, onion, olive oil, spices.

I'll have to experiment to make sure this actually works the way I said. I only make this once a year. And no way is there any left for freezing.

Batya said...

I hope you're sending this to kcc.
after , yes, 38 years here in Israel, I automatically make my own tomato sauces, all different kinds.

I like the 28-30%. You can freeze leftovers.