This recipe was made with my dear friend, Nofar Zohar.
In my Tel Aviv kitchen, Nofar taught me how to put a savory spin on a Shabakia—a classic Moroccan delicacy made with flaky, rose-shaped fried pastry. Instead of the typical sweet toppings, we used our razor-sharp Wüsthof Classic Ikon crème knives to slice and dice our way to a bright, lemony ceviche salad using market-fresh produce and fish. It was all set atop creamy yogurt with and artful drizzle of basil oil and a squeeze of cherry tomato seeds. A crispy, crunchy, and fresh spin on Chanukah cooking. You can watch how we did it on Instagram.
Makes 30 shabakia
For the shabakia:
1 cup water (8.3 ounces)
200 grams butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons arak
750 grams (10.4 ounces) flour, sifted, plus 1/2 cup for tossing
¼ cup cornstarch
Neutral-flavored oil, such as canola, for frying
For the salad:
2 Persian cucumbers, peeled, finely diced
1 shallot, finely minced
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed, rolled and sliced into ribbons
1 hot red chilli, seeded if you’d like, finely minced
10 arugula leaves, finely sliced
1/2 cup pomelo sliced,* or pink or white grapefruit, peeled, broken up into pieces using your hands.
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
4-5 ounce sushi grade white fish fillet, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
For the basil oil:
Makes 1/2 cup
1 bunch basil
3/4 cup neutral oil
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cherry tomatos
Make the shabakia:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the water, butter, sugar, and araq over low speed until slushily incorporated, 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, gradually add the 750 grams flour, raise the speed to medium and mix until you have a supple, unified and pliant dough that is no longer sticky, 2-3 minutes. Let the dough rest in a lightly floured bowl, covered with a tea towel, for at least 1 hour and up to 4.
Fry the shabakia:
Fill a wide saucepan halfway with oil and heat to 350°F, using a candy thermometer if you have one to regulate the temperature of the oil. Remove all paper and glue from two clean, empty standard-sized diced tomato cans, then use a can opener to remove the bottom side of the can to create two metal tubes. Place the cans in the oil. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and get out a spider, tongs, and a chopstick or thin metal skewer.
Uncover the dough and divide it into four pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch log, then cut each log into 8 equal-sized pieces. Toss the remaining ½ cup flour and the cornstarch in a bowl and lightly flour a clean work surface. Using your hands shape a dough pieces into as much of a rectangle as you can. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 5- x 7-inch shape roughly resembling a rectangle. Use a crimped pastry wheel to cut the dough into a more exact rectangle (reserve the scraps), then use the docker to make lines about ¼ inch apart in the dough, leaving a ½-inch frame all around the dough. Pick the dough up from the counter and separate the rectangle into strands. Working from the outside, pull the outer strands in, cat’s-cradle style, then bunch the dough up into a freeform flower. Drop the dough into the can. Using a chopstick, move the dough around in the can for 30 seconds, flipping it and swirling it, and spooning hot oil over the dough; it will begin to puff up like magic. Using tongs, lift the can to release the shbakia into the oil and continue to fry, turning, until golden brown, 1-2 minutes more. Get into a rhythm of frying two shabakias at once using the two cans. Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer to the towel-lined tray.
Make the salad:
Combine the cucumbers, shallots, cilantro, mint, chili, rocket, pomelo in a large salad bowl.
Make the basil oil:
Bring a medium sauce pan with water to a boil. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice, then add water to create an ice bath. Add the basil leaves and stems to the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Use a spider or tongs to remove the basil to the ice bath and let it sit for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the stiff stems and discard. Use your hands o squeeze the water out of the basil. Add the basil and oil to a large glass jar. Use an immersion blender to blend until emulsified, 30 seconds. Place a strainer over a large glass bowl and place a cloth on top. Strain the oil into the glass bowl.
Assemble the dish
Right before you are ready to eat, squeeze in the lemon juice, add the salt, fish, olive oil and toss. Slice the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Spread the yogurt on a large rimmed platter. Drizzle the basil oil on top, and place the Shabakia and top with 2 tablespoons salad. Drizzle with olive oil.
*Cut off the top and the bottom of the pomelo. Slice inside removing the skin on both sides. Score both sides of the pomelo to remove the thick peel, take out the seeds and peel away any excess flesh.