Schmaltz: The Jewish cooking staple becomes a favored fat
Long used in Jewish dishes, schmaltz pops up at Chinese, Icelandic and Japanese restaurants in New York City.
1/4Photograph: Daniel KriegerShio ramen at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop
2/4Photograph: Filip WolakSmoked bread with chicken butter at Pearl & Ash
3/4Photograph: Filip WolakDe Cicco broccoli at Skal
4/4Photograph: Filip WolakBeef-schmaltz crostini at Takashi
By Patty Lee|
It’s played second fiddle to butter for generations, but schmaltz has finally busted out of the Jewish kitchen. The poultry-rendered fat—used as a kosher substitute in matzo ball soup and chopped liver—has gotten the single-subject cookbook treatment, with culinary historian Michael Ruhlman’s The Book of Schmaltz. The fat has also become a hit with New York City chefs. At Ivan Orkin’s soon-to-open Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop (Gotham West Market, 600 Eleventh Ave between 44th and 45th Sts, 212-582-7940), the noodle guru imparts a bit of his Jewish heritage in his signature shio (salt) ramen ($13). To ratchet up the umami factor, he blends the fat into a chicken-and-fish-dashi broth. He’s not the only chef drawing from his Semitic childhood. In an ode to his schmaltz-loving mother, Ben Spiegel uses chicken fat to fry the crumbled anchovies that top roasted De Cicco broccoli ($13) at Icelandic restaurant Skal(37 Canal St at Ludlow St, 212-777-7518). “Schmaltz is more savory than pork fat, which tastes pretty neutral,” says Spiegel. And others are imbuing it into butter. Riffing off chicken and waffles, Richard Kuo pairs moist smoked bread with a schmaltz-and-maple schmear ($4) at Pearl & Ash(220 Bowery between Prince and Spring Sts, 212-837-2370). At yakiniku house Takashi NYC(456 Hudson St between Barrow and Morton Sts, 212-414-2929), Takashi Inoue slathers a butter-and-beef-fat concoction—which he affectionately calls the “special fat”—onto whole-wheat toast ($12). While it isn’t bird-based, he has dubbed his spread “schmaltz,” a testament to the ingredient’s growing cache. With more chefs catching on to what bubbes have known for years, the liquid gold is finally getting its big, fat due.