Gabriel Israel moved to New York after serving in the Israeli army and went to work for Daniel Boulud at Boulud Sud. There, he earned the nickname Shuka for his shakshuka skills, and the idea for his Shuka Truck was born. Although the food truck no longer roams the streets of Manhattan, Israeli is and will always be the “Shakshuka King.” These days, he’s the chef at Green Fig and Social Drink & Food inside YOTEL in Hell’s Kitchen. He considers shakshuka to be more of a technique than a dish. “Egyptians have their kind of shakshuka. Tunisia has their kind of shakshuka. All the Middle Eastern countries have their type of shakshuka,” Israel says. A native of Ra’anana and part-time graffiti and tattoo artist, he likes to make his shakshuka with hummus, a.k.a. Israeli hamshuka.
Leftover hummus and leftover tomato sauce are essential to hamshuka. First, in a medium pan over medium heat, combine red sauce from the day before—or that almost-empty pasta jar that’s been sitting in your fridge forever—with a lot of extra virgin olive oil. “My grandmother taught me that you always need to have the tip of a finger’s worth of extra-virgin olive oil in the pan to boost the flavors of your spices,” Israel says. Once the sauce comes to a boil, crack two to three eggs in the pan, making sure they touch the bottom so they cook evenly. After three minutes, you’re ready to plate. Swirl the hummus with a spoon, creating a crater for the shakshuka. Pour the red sauce and eggs into the hole and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (Israeli swears the best tahini is from Lebanon), charred onions, parsley leaves, za’atar, and sumac.