Growing up, I watched my mother prepare the crackly matzos into soft sponges by putting them under warm water. It’s a memory I happily connect with.
We always had this famous Ashkenazi dish during the week of Passover. Often, we’d have it for breakfast along with a big drizzle of Log Cabin syrup. Sometimes my mom sprinkled sweet strawberry slices across the top of each dish. Passover and spring—a cheerful combination.
Through the years, I have made alternate versions of the sweet homestyle dish. One of my favorites is this take on lox, onions, and eggs. The crispy, golden-fried matzo pieces add texture to basic scrambled eggs. The onions and smoked salmon deliver a distinctive savory-sweet flavor to the dish.
You’ll find a caramelized onion recipe following the brei recipe. If you don’t have time, you can use a jar of caramelized onions. I keep a jar in my pantry as a backup, so this takes just a few minutes to put together. In a pinch, I like Divina Caramelized Onion Jam, which you can order online. This condiment is a worthy taste addition to many dishes. Look for a less salty smoked salmon like Nova or Atlantic. I often serve this for brunch, and sometimes we will have it for breakfast or dinner.
If you prefer a sweetened version, omit the onions and salmon. Instead, add a tablespoon of sugar while the matzo is sautéing so it becomes slightly caramelized. Continue scrambling the eggs with the matzo until just done. Serve with maple syrup or your preferred jam or fruit compote. Sweet or savory, matzo brei is a tradition to look forward to each year.
Savory Matzo Brei with Smoked Salmon and Caramelized Onions
- 2 sheets matzo
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons caramelized onions
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped smoked salmon
- Fresh chives, for garnish
Soften the matzo sheets by running them under warm water until they begin to soften, 30 seconds to a minute. Place on a plate or cookie sheet and let them continue to soften for a few minutes. Dry off with paper towels.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and milk together until well blended. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter on medium-high heat. With your hands break the matzo into bite-sized pieces. Add the pieces to the pan and saute them until brown and crisped, then using tongs, turn them to evenly brown them, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour the eggs into the skillet and move around until they are almost set. Add the onions and salmon, and mix; cook another minute or so. Turn out the matzo brei into shallow bowls, garnish with chives and serve immediately.
Note: This recipe may be doubled or tripled. Make sure to use a larger deep casserole to accommodate the larger number of onions.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 large yellow, red, or Maui (or a combination) onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Freshly ground white pepper
Heat oil in a large non-aluminum casserole pan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 12 to 15 minutes or until well softened. Stir frequently.
Add the sugar to the onions and simmer on low heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, and the onions are very tender and caramelized into a deep golden brown, about 15 more minutes. Watch carefully toward the end to avoid burning the onions. Add the salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Cool and serve at room temperature.
Advance preparation: These onions may be prepared up to a month ahead, covered in an airtight container, and refrigerated.