Most people who grew up eating matzo brei know it exclusively as a breakfast treat, enjoyed only eight days a year during Passover. A French Toast of sorts, matzo brei is made of broken pieces of matzo soaked in water, then drained, and finally scrambled with egg, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and perhaps drizzled with maple syrup. It is truly delicious, I think. For the record, there are some who do not like it (my father, for example, is not a fan). But there are other ways to enjoy matzo brei than merely as your best effort to tell your taste buds that the deprivation of bread, pasta, and rice (for all you Ashkenazis like me) isn’t so tough.
In my family, we eat matzo brei as an hors d’oeuvre. Yes, four courses of food isn’t enough for us. We like to get started with some herring, and just to make sure we can survive the abbreviated seder and don’t faint, we first feast on pieces of matzo brei topped with chopped liver or chopped eggs and onions, the princely pates of Eastern European cooking.
My grandfather, Ted, perfected this dish. Since matzo brei is traditionally a scrambled mess (in my father’s defense, it certainly is not the prettiest dish you’ll ever see), he thought to break matzo pieces into same-sized squares to create the perfect base for the chopped liver and eggs and onions. He soaked the pieces in water (so they become tender and flexible like a noodle), then stacked them in threes before dipping them in egg and rolling them in matzo meal (a course flour of ground matzo). The matzo meal coating transforms standard matzo brei into something extraordinary. Then frying the whole thing in schmaltz (chicken fat) imparts that extra depth of flavor and exceptional golden brown color.
Breaking the matzo pieces in perfect squares can be challenging. Check out this amusing video from Japan of all places on how to do it easily.