(Gluten-Free!) Matzo Brei and the Meaning of Family

Kitchen Diary: Emily in Los Angeles

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Since going gluten-free one of the foods I have missed most has been matzo brei. Although I'm not Jewish, this fry-up of matzo and eggs is actually a beloved family dish and one of my favorite comfort foods. So you can imagine how happy I was to find gluten-free matzo this week!

If you aren't familiar with matzo brei, it's a classic Jewish dish made from broken matzo softened in water or milk, mixed with eggs, and fried in butter, oil, or schmaltz. I like to think of matzo brei as a Jewish version of migas, another favorite from my own Texas childhood. It's easy to cook and makes a satisfying breakfast or quick dinner. I'm partial to salt and pepper but one can also add toppings like jelly, applesauce, or sour cream.

I learned how to make matzo brei a few years ago when my partner Gregory introduced me to it. He isn't Jewish, either, and yet he learned how to make matzo brei from his father. When Gregory's father immigrated to the United States from Korea as a college student, he lived with a Jewish host family in Los Angeles. He embraced the cuisine and as a result, Gregory grew up eating Jewish food almost as much as Korean.

Although I sadly never got to meet Gregory's father, eating matzo brei always makes me think of him and the wider meaning of family. It never fails to amaze me that that Gregory, a Southern Californian Korean American, and I, a half-Vietnamese/Chinese Texan, can stand in the kitchen together and cook something that Jewish grandmothers have been making for generations. In this simple dish is everything I love about the complexity and fluidity of family, culture, and Los Angeles.

And now that I've discovered gluten-free versions, I am so glad I can finally have matzo brei again! Made from tapioca and potato starch, Manischewitz Gluten Free Matzo-style Squares are crumblier than traditional matzo (and dissolve into the eggs more), but they're not a bad substitute. (Note that this particular product is not suitable for seder. There are other brands made with oats — has anyone tried them?)

Do you love matzo brei? Savory or sweet?

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Kitchen Diary: Emily in Los Angeles

(Image credits: Emily Ho)

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