“Chasing Smoke”: Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich on the Beauty of Fire Cooking

0

‘You have to watch. It must be left to caramelize. You have to let the flavors intensify. The smell begins to come in and the noise. It’s quite an experience and it’s wonderful, ”says chef Sarit Packer, co-author of Chasing Smoke.

Content of the article

Our cookbook of the week is Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. To try a recipe from the book, check out: Grilled Cabbage in Garlic Chilli Butter; rib eye steak with smoked pepper salad; and roasted stone fruits with rosemary and rose syrup.

Publicity

Content of the article

Sarit Packer sees the beauty in the kitchen on the fire. The moment it ignites, the London chef is drawn to the rising smoke, then the smoldering embers and finally, softening, the hot coals.

“Just looking at it is beautiful and then cooking on it is pretty calming,” she says. “You can’t rush. This is not a frying pan, (where you) fry an egg in two seconds. You have to watch. It must be left to caramelize. You have to let the flavors intensify. The smell begins to come in and the noise. It’s quite an experience and it’s wonderful.

At Honey & Smoke in London, England – one of three restaurants she founded with her husband, fellow chef and co-author Itamar Srulovich – they have plenty of chefs running the grill, sweaty in the heat. But Packer can’t stay away, even though she hasn’t always been drawn to the flame.

Publicity

Content of the article

Roasted Stone Fruits with Rosemary and Rose Syrup from Chasing Smoke
Roasted Stone Fruits with Rosemary and Rose Syrup from Chasing Smoke. Photo by Patricia Niven

Growing up in northern Israel, her father grilled food – she was responsible for delivering the ingredients (and the occasional beer). When she became a chef 24 years ago, cooking over high heat in restaurants was extremely rare. “On the contrary, the more sophisticated the equipment, the more exciting it would be. So you break away from it, ”Packer explains. “You use induction hobs. You use all these crazy gadgets, and you never really have to start a fire.

Inspired by the flavors of grilling in Israel, Srulovich tried to convince Packer that they should open up a reimagined version within a decade. He eventually succeeded and they opened Honey & Smoke in 2016. Non-initiate, Packer initially doubted herself – but that changed by the time they installed the grill.

Publicity

Content of the article

“I became an arsonist, that’s what my husband says now,” Packer explains. “When we did, I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to let this be his toy. “

“And then she snatched my toy from me,” Srulovich interjects.

Packer admits, “I grabbed your toy. I am very cranky.

While Packer was addicted to the process and the transforming power of the grill on vegetables in particular, Srulovich came to cook on the fire as a diner and bystander. He remembers the Arab and Druze grills he ate when he was a child in Jerusalem; they were sometimes whimsical, sometimes utilitarian, but always memorable.

“You get your kebab, you get your salad, you get your bread, and it was such a complete meal and a fantastic experience for me that I thought we had to recreate it. I just wanted to go back to those places, ”he says.

Publicity

Content of the article

This same impulse entered the writing of their fourth cookbook, Clear the smoke (Books Pavilion, 2021). Through their previous books – Honey & Co .: Middle Eastern Food (Little, Brown and Company, 2014), Golden (Little, Brown and Company, 2016) and Honey & Co .: At home (Pavilion, 2019) – they provide a window into their restaurant and home kitchen. Now with Clear the smoke, they take readers on a journey to Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan and Turkey with recipes and stories of real fire cooking and culture.

“It’s us on vacation,” Packer says. “Looking around for food markets, asking people to leave us in their kitchens to cook.”

Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich
In Chasing Smoke, chefs Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich take readers on a culinary journey to Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan and Turkey. Photo from Pavilion Books

Clear the smoke was originally intended to be a restaurant book, Srulovich says. A showcase for the Middle Eastern grills they serve at Honey & Smoke, like charred eggplant, lamb kofta and simmered octopus. But restaurant cookbooks can be intimidating, Packer adds, and their main purpose was to teach home cooks how attractive and accessible wood-fired cooking is throughout the Levant.

Publicity

Content of the article

The book ended up being a larger and more complex project than what Packer and Srulovich initially imagined. They began traveling in late 2018 and were away for much of the winter and spring of 2019. If the pandemic had not ended their research trips, they say, their trips would have continued.

Instead, during the lockdown, they channeled their Levantine journeys into special episodes of their podcast, Honey & Co .: The Food Talks – in which they spoke to some of the people they met along the way, as well as their photographer, Patricia Niven – and organized take-out dinners. Revisiting their trips back home, they combed through their notes and immersed themselves in writing snapshots of the people and places that dot the book.

Publicity

Content of the article

“It’s not even an iota of the material we collected. There are so many amazing photographs, there are so many stories… In a way, it was good that things had changed because we could go on forever. Because everywhere there are new experiences and new people to meet, different foods to try, ”says Packer. “We knew we couldn’t do full justice to any of these countries or cities we were going to, so we just wanted to touch on things that we were passionate about.”

With so many amazing experiences to choose from, some have stood out as particularly impressive fireside feats. They were blown away by the wooden carts in Alexandria, Egypt, for example, in which vendors roast chestnuts, peanuts, potatoes, sweetcorn, and sweet potatoes. “I still can’t figure out how they don’t burn,” Srulovich says.

Publicity

Content of the article

While in Gaziantep, Turkey, Packer remembers a very special medlar and lamb kofta, and in the desert valley of Wadi Rum, Jordan, zarb (hot smoked chicken with vegetables- roots), which they detail in one of the book’s essays. (Recipes for both dishes are also in the book.)

  1. Grilled Cabbage with Garlic Chili Butter from Chasing Smoke.

    Cook this: Grilled Cabbage with Garlic Chili Butter from Chasing Smoke

  2. Sirloin Steak with Chasing Smoke's Smoked Pepper Salad.

    Cook this: Sirloin Steak with Smoked Pepper Salad from Chasing Smoke

  3. Roasted Stone Fruits with Rosemary and Rose Syrup from Chasing Smoke.

    Cook this: Roasted Stone Fruits with Rosemary and Rose Syrup

For those who don’t have access to a barbecue or fire pit, at the end of each recipe, Packer and Srulovich include a note on how to prepare it without. “We live in an apartment and we had to force my parents to accept that we dig a hole in their backyard when we were (in Israel) to bury stuff because unfortunately we don’t have a barbecue. We had to open a restaurant for that, ”says Packer.

Publicity

Content of the article

Srulovich adds, “We are very adept at converting these recipes in a home environment.”

But for a few recipes, like zarb, there is simply no substitute. Bedouin hosts Packer and Srulovich started a fire in a deep desert pit, hung shelves full of chicken and vegetables above the embers, covered it with a lid, then sealed the pit with a heap. sand. Six or seven hours later, they devoured him under the night sky. Baking it would not be the same.

About a third of Clear the smoke are vegetarians, Packer says, “and that’s just to show that there is a whole different line of food.” While the meat shines on the grill, cooking the vegetables on the fire brings out their best. “In our travels we’ve seen just about anything that grows, goes on the grill,” Srulovich adds. “Salads, endives, pumpkins, apples, pears, desert truffles, eggplants of course, zucchini. Everything goes on the grill and that’s good for that. And it really is something that you cannot recreate otherwise.

Publicity

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour of moderation before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread that you follow, or if a user that you follow comments. Check out our community guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.