Radio chat – Jewish Passover & My Matzo Balls Recipe – Dani Valent

Talking Jewish Passover traditions

Ready to cook matzo ball soup for Passover

Preparing to make matzo balls in the company of some inflatable matzo balls at the In One Voice festival

In preparation for the In One Voice Jewish street culture festival, I went onto J-Air Radio to chat about my approach to Passover cooking and the ins and outs of the vibrant Melbourne food scene. Listen in and see below for the Matzo Balls recipe I made for the festival.

Matzo Balls

One of the key dishes of the Jewish festival of Passover is Matzo Ball Soup. Jews don’t eat any yeasted bread during Passover, to commemorate the speedy escape from Egypt during which there was no time to let bread rise. Instead, an unleavened cracker called matzo is eaten. Matzo are eaten plain, but it’s very traditional to formed matzo meal into dumplings too.
A good matzo ball (in my opinion) is fluffy and has some texture. That’s why I make my own matzo meal so I can keep some larger crumbs, and I beat my egg whites separately. My radical intervention is to add a few Vietnamese flavours, inspired by pho noodle soup. I put ginger and lemongrass in my chicken broth and Vietnamese mint in the dumplings themselves. You can just leave these flavours out if you want to stay traditional.
Makes: 16 dumplings
Time: 1 hour
3 matzos (see Tips)
1 sprig Vietnamese mint
3 eggs
1 tsp Kosher salt, or another fine salt
1.5L (50 oz) chicken broth (see Tips)
1. Break matzo into about 6 pieces each and place in mixing bowl along with Vietnamese mint leaves. Blitz 9 sec/speed 6. Set aside.
2. Insert Butterfly. Separate eggs and place egg whites in mixing bowl. Mix 1 min/speed 4.
3. Add yolks, reserved matzo meal and salt. Mix 15 sec/speed 2. Set aside in a container and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (this can be done the day before). When firm, roll dessertspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place in Varoma. Remove Butterfly and clean mixing bowl.
4. Place 1.5L chicken broth in mixing bowl and set Varoma in place. Steam 20 min/Varoma/speed 2.
5. Remove Varoma and drop matzo balls into broth. Cook 2 min/100°C (212°F)/Rev/speed 1.
Serve hot, in shallow bowls.
  • Matzo are available in supermarkets and delis in Jewish neighbourhoods; they look like this.
  • I love having chicken broth on hand! When steaming chicken, for example, for my Chicken Tart, I keep the steaming water and store it in the fridge (if using within a few days) or freezer. To create a richer broth, I will throw my steaming water base (or a few litres of fresh water) in a pot with onion, carrot, bay leaf and a few chicken drumsticks and let it all simmer for an hour or two, skimming any brown froth that appears. I then take out the drumsticks, pull the meat from the bones and discard the bones and skin. Return the meat to the pot for a heartier broth, or use it in sandwiches and salads if you want a clear broth. For my Vietnamese-flavoured matzo balls, I added a sliced lemongrass stalk to the broth as well.
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