Of all the recipes in the Passover canon, one of the simplest is matzo brei. Soak matzos in egg and maybe a little milk or water until softened, fry in butter or oil. Top with powdered sugar or maple syrup if you like the sweet side of things, or salt and pepper if you have more savory hankerings.
It’s quintessential Passover brunch food, so bare-bones that I never really thought about altering it, or even eating it, more than once or twice a year.
Then one morning last Passover, when I was eating matzo brei but dreaming about bagels and lox, it hit me. If I added smoked salmon to the matzo brei, I’d end up with a heartier twist on another Jewish staple: lox, eggs and onions.
Made from onions fried until chocolate brown and very sweet, then mixed with scrambled eggs and salty shreds of lox, it is a crave-worthy classic.
I dusted off the idea for this reformed recipe when the first boxes of matzo reappeared in the supermarket this spring. I doubled the standard matzo-brei ratio of one egg to one sheet of matzo, because if I wanted my dish to be as fluffy as lox, eggs, and onions, the eggs would need to play a bigger role.
Then I made sure to cook the mixture gently, over medium-low heat. While the crispy edges from high-heat frying are what you want for a traditional brei, high heat would toughen the extra eggs in my scramble.
When the eggs and matzo were nearly done, I folded in pieces of smoked salmon to just warm them up without cooking them, which would destroy their velvety texture.
Lastly, for a garnish, I split the difference in the sweet-or-savory matzo brei debate by going both ways: I added a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of honey.
The dish was sweet, it was salty, it was nicely fishy and it was completely unlike any matzo brei I’d ever made before — in a very good way.
Matzo, Lox, Eggs, and Onions
1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
8 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4ounces lox or smoked salmon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill, more for garnish
Honey, for serving
Sour cream, for serving.
Put the matzos under a running faucet for about 15 seconds or until really wet. They should start to soften but not fall apart. Break them into rough 1½-inch pieces.
Scatter the onion in a large dry skillet over high heat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it turns dark golden brown on one side, then stir in the butter and a pinch of salt and cook until golden all over and dark brown in spots, about 3 to 5 minutes. If the butter starts to become too brown, lower the heat.
While the onion is frying, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl with ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Stir in the matzo pieces and let them soak.
Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low and add matzo-egg mixture to the onion. Cook, stirring, as you would with scrambled eggs. When the eggs are two-thirds of the way cooked, stir in the smoked salmon and dill. Serve immediately with a pool of honey and dollop of sour cream on the side.
Yield: 4 servings.