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Eight Days and 8 Delicious Gourmet Ways With Matzah

04/04/2015 08:36 am ET | Updated Jun 04, 2015

So we Jews are looking at eight whole days of eating the "bread of affliction." The matzah companies have gone to some lengths to ensure that we will experience eating their products as an affliction too. Even if you manage to find an artisanal, whole wheat, spelt or other version that qualifies as "Kosher for Passover," there's no getting around the fact that no matter how "good" the matzah claims to be, it's still ... matzah.

For years, I have tried to find some way to mitigate some of matzah's matzah-ness. When my three children were small, I could cover matzah with melted cheese and they would be reasonably satisfied. I've tried to make matzah pizza and traditional recipes, such as scrambled eggs with matzah.

But this year I've resolved: Rather than fight the matzah, I'm going to lean in to it, as it were. Every day of the holiday I'll post a gourmet way to honor the commandment to eat matzah: eight easy recipes that are more friendly to modern tastes and diets, and with a little less added affliction. For further inspirational ways to celebrate the Passover, or to find beautiful objects for your contemporary Jewish lifestyle, please visit Fig Tree & Vine.

Julia Child's Trout Meuniere

Let's pretend Julia Child was Jewish. Can't you hear her distinctive voice citing matzah as the definite proof of her saying, "With enough butter, anything is good"?

This recipe can be adapted to many fish filets: sole, cod, tilapia. What I like about it for "our first day of matzah" is that, despite the butter, it's a very light dish. This is especially good if your Seder was "the full brisket," as we say in our family. It takes only minutes to prepare, and can be served with just a green salad. Julia's dish requires the fish to be drenched in flour, beaten egg, and fine breadcrumbs. Matzah meal is fine substitution for the flour. Alternatively, baked matzah can be crumbled into rather thick crumbs for a texture that is almost like an almond-crusted fish. Give matzah this: it's firm and robust. When pan-fried in butter it's ... good! So, lean in.

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6 fish filets (skin on is fine, if you don't mind it)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper (I cheated and used dark pepper)
1 cup matzah meal on a plate
2 eggs, 2 tsp oil, and 1/8 tsp salt whisked together in a dish or pie pan
2 1/2 cups roughishly ground matzah
4 tbs clarified butter, or 2tbs butter and 2 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs fresh minced parsley
1 lemon cut into wedges

Dry the filets and season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. One at a time, dip first and matzah meal and shake off excess, then in beaten egg and shake off excess. Set the filet in the crumbs, and coat on both sides. Lay each piece as done on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. When all are crumbed, cover and refrigerate 20 minutes or longer, so the crumbs will set.

Place a large, non-stick frying pan over medium high heat and film with 1/16th-inch clarified butter (or if mixing with olive oil, do half and half).

When the butter is very hot but not browning, rapidly lay in as many fillets as will fit easily, leaving a little space between each. Saute a minute or two on one side, turn carefully so as not to break the fillet, and saute a minute or two on the other side.

The fish is done when just springy. Immediately remove from the pan to warm plates or a platter. (Or, if you're sauteeing in two batches, keep the first warm for the few minutes necessary in a 200°F oven.)

Sprinkle each filet with parsley and serve immediately.

Tomorrow: Sunday brunch with shakshuka and matzah fingers.