Israel Substituion Guide

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israel guide

Editor's intro:

`A couple weeks ago we posted a Call To Cooks in Israel to help us start this Israel Substitution Guide to help new and old olim adapt recipes with ingredients they can find in Israel.  We had some fantastic responses with lots of tips and advice already in the comments over there.  Based on the questions we got and some of our own, Dvora has compiled this guide to help others.

In addition, Dvora is helping us find and tag recipes that can be made without modification in Israel.  We call them Israeli Friendly Recipes and you can click on that link and bookmark that page to see continuous updates and as always we welcome your recipes and hope you will Submit Recipes also to add to the collection.  Please also feel free to ask questions and answer each other in the comments below on this post.

Creativity is the key to good ingredient substitution.  While a recipe that has an important ingredient replaced may not come out exactly as you expected, smart substitution can result in a still delicious end product.

One thing I have discovered is that Israel gets my Little House on the Prairie instinct going.  While I used to buy more prepared items, like marinara sauce and spice mixes, I make a lot more from scratch these days, and I am always surprised when they are easy and not at all time consuming to make.  The internet has a plethora of spice mix recipes, from pickling spice to taco seasoning, so search away and choose one you like.  It’s often worthwhile to make a large batch and store for future use.

Cheese - A word of caution – in the US, pizza cheese is usually a blend of natural cheeses, but in Israel, “Pizzarella” is a processed cheese product, much like American cheese.  That said, it melts very well, something that cannot always be said of yellow cheeses, such as Emek or Gilboa.

See below for my substitution chart. I hope that answers some of your questions, please comment below with any new or old questions and I will do my best to help.

Egg roll wrappers can be substituted with Morroccan cigar leaves. For other Asian dishes, there is a fantastic array of ingredients easily available in most every supermarket. While duck sauce can sometimes be found, though at a steep cost, a reasonable replacement is plum sauce, more easily located. For a little spice, add some sweet chili sauce.

Cranberry sauce in recipes can be replaced by any number of flavors of jelly or fruit spread. Though fresh cranberries are not generally available, frozen red currants are a reasonable facsimile.

Meat cuts can be confusing here. While they don’t often correspond to the cuts we knew in America, beef can be very good and very reasonably priced. Number three is the brisket many readers asked about, number four is a shoulder roast, and five is a minute steak roast. Your best bet is to consult one of the many Israel meat cut charts available online and learn how best to cook each type.

In my experience, chicken and beef broth are not available here in Israel. Knorr makes a product called “tzir bakar” and “tzir of” which is a paste that can be diluted to constitute stock. Another alternative is cooking chicken broth powder to make a broth. Beef flavored boullion powder is extremely difficult to find. If you are feeling industrious, you can always make your own stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable), and freeze it in small containers for future use.

Dairy products can also cause confusion, as they don’t always match up to what we are used to from before. Farmer cheese is easily substituted with Tuv Taam or C’naan cheese, a hard white cheese. There is also a Russian cheese called Tvorog that is a suitable substitute. Sour cream is called shamenet chamutza or just shamenet (the all-purpose word for cream), and comes in a variety of fat percentages.

A word of caution – in the US, pizza cheese is usually a blend of natural cheeses, but in Israel, “Pizzarella” is a processed cheese product, much like American cheese. That said, it melts very well, something that cannot always be said of yellow cheeses, such as Emek or Gilboa.

There are a very few glorious weeks when fresh blueberries and raspberries are available in the store, at a very steep cost. But for the rest of the year, and for the cost conscious, frozen berries are the way to go.

Small packets of yeast are not available, so just measure out 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast for every envelope. Don’t get confused with the fresh granulated yeast that is found in the refrigerator section. That’s a different animal altogether.

Please let us know if you have other ingredient substitution quandaries – we are here to help!

In addition, Efrat, a friend of Jamie's, passed along a few tips we thought you might enjoy:

Blueberries: are grown in Kedumim and are available only in May and June, contact Yaakov 052-567-3099 for information (He is a Hebrew speaker).   During the rest of the year, frozen blueberries work well in baked goods. You can get frozen fruits of all kinds at: Icetory in Yerushalayim (Ask for Kobi 02-622-2298).

Other berries: you can pick your own raspberries and blackberries in Gush Etzion in June and July (Moshe - is an English speaker! 054-670-0710)

Flanken: Matam Chafetz Chaim is a butcher shop in Yerushalayim, run by olim from Chicago - they know how Americans like their meat. They have packaged products in some butcher cases and can tell you where to get flanken or anything else in your area - phone: 02-624-3443

Don't complain about missing Tropicana orange juice, get home delivery by Pomerantz.

The seasonality of produce is something to get used to - for example: strawberry season runs from Channuka to pesach (I always freeze 6 boxes at the end of the season!) and it becomes something to look forward to.