Kosher Butcher’s wife gives us a taste of home

  • SharonLurieRibs
The “Kosher Butcher’s wife”, Sharon Lurie, whose recipes are a favourite among the community, launched her third cookbook, A Taste of South Africa with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife, last Wednesday evening at Nussbaums Butchery in Glenhazel, Johannesburg.
by NIKITA SINGH | Jun 20, 2019

Lurie combines uniquely South African flavours with the requirements and traditions of kosher cooking. She has developed ingenious ways of using leftovers and modernising traditional recipes.

She explains, “Traditionally, when we make fish balls and fried fish for the Jewish holidays, we tend to go a little overboard, ‘just in case we don’t have enough!’ So, leftover fried fish is always a given.” In the book, Lurie transforms leftover fish balls into sweet and tangy “Curried Cape Malay fish” for a flavoursome South African twist.

Recipes like “Soweto salad with bubbe’s borscht twist”, “chakalaka corn latkes”, and “bobotie fish blintzes” showcase Lurie’s skill in adapting South African flavours to traditional Jewish dishes. Her recipes are simple and modern, and her sense of humour shines through in her writing.

A firm favourite in the Lurie household is “Bobba Shar’s no-bake melktert”. Traditionally, a milk tart filling is made with milk, sugar, and eggs; but Lurie adds a tin of condensed milk for a luxurious and decadent twist.

Lurie’s first book, Cooking with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife, was published in 2006. “The first book took me 25 years to write,” she says. With encouragement from her sister-in-law, Lurie worked to condense decades worth of recipes and cooking notes from her files, and eventually approached Struik publishers.

Her debut cookbook aimed to educate home cooks about meat. “The first book was about teaching people. No-one really knew all the cuts of meat there were, and how to cook them,” says Lurie.

“I used to work in the butchery, and obviously I wouldn’t be allowed all the prime cuts. So, I would get what the customers didn’t want, and I used to think to myself, ‘How can they ignore all these beautiful cuts?’ There’s some delicious cuts out there.”

Lurie became the butcher’s wife when she married Ian Lurie 37 years ago. Ian is the owner of Nussbaums Butchery, which has been providing the community with kosher meat for four generations.

“I always say … G-d knew what he was doing 59 years ago when he put the two of us together in heaven. He knew how much I love cooking. It was the right lid for the pot,” says Lurie.

The new book demonstrates the Lurie family’s adoration of meat in the chapter, “Let’s meat and eat”. The chapter features drool-worthy meat recipes from “Jislaaik ribelicious ribs” to “Joburg-style jerk chicken”. Lurie says that in her home, she’s in charge of the braai. “My husband works with meat all day – smoking, cooking, cutting – so the last thing he feels like doing is repeating that all over again when he gets home,” says Lurie.

If Lurie’s first love is meat, her second is bread. “If you were to ask my friends what I could never live without, they would all answer in unison, ‘bread and meat’. I love, live, and breathe bread.” From challah, to bagels, to potbrood, Lurie loves to bake her own bread. “I love fresh bread. I love to be able to tear it apart, and eat it with layers and layers of … biltong.”

The new book features a never-before-seen recipe, “Xoliswa’s Ndoyiya’s umbhako challah”. This is challah made in a pot and cooked over a fire (especially useful for load-shedding nights). The recipe was developed for members of the community climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The climbers needed a pot recipe as there wouldn’t be ovens to make challah for Shabbos. “No doubt this was a first for Mount Kilimanjaro,” says Lurie.

Lurie has a strong following overseas. She believes the expat community appreciates her recipes as they are a reminder of home. “You just want that connection … with kosher, and with South Africa.”

She will launch her cookbook in London in September, and possibly in New York later in the year, giving her expat following an authentic taste of South African Jewish cuisine. “Wherever you are in the world, may you always enjoy the tales and tastes of your home, your heritage, your traditions, and your culture,” she says.

Jislaaik ribelicious ribs

Whenever a South African says jislaaik (pronounced “yis-like”), it’s normally said with some sort of surprise. For instance, in rugby, if a man scores a try by running from one end of the field to the other avoiding all the other players, that’s jislaaik. Or, if something tastes delicious, you say, “Jislaaik this is good!”

Three racks meaty-smoked steakhouse ribs, cut up individually (about 20 ribs, each about 12cm long)

2 litres cola

1 tsp crushed fresh garlic

1 heaped tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Basting sauce: 1 cup tomato sauce (e.g. All Gold) or ketchup; ¼ cup hotdog mustard (your favourite); ¼ cup soy sauce; and ¼ cup smooth apricot jam.

1.    Wash the ribs well to remove excess salt from the smoking process. Place them in a large pot and cover with the cola, garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes. Don’t worry if they are not covered completely, as there should be sufficient liquid to steam them. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow the ribs to cook for at least 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, swap the ribs at the bottom of the pot to the top so that all the ribs are cooked evenly in the cola.

2.    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Transfer the ribs to a roasting dish, discarding any cola that hasn’t already cooked out.

3.    To make the basting sauce, mix the tomato sauce or ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and apricot jam in a bowl until well combined. Baste the ribs with this mixture, then roast in the oven, covered, for one hour, turning after 30 minutes. After an hour, reduce the heat to 160°C and roast for another hour, uncovered, until the ribs are dark and crispy.

Serves 6

This recipe is provided courtesy of Sharon Lurie and is in her latest cookbook.



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