Jake Cohen's Tips For Perfectly Fluffy Matzo Balls - Exclusive

When prepared correctly, matzo balls are a beautiful thing. These round dumplings made with matzo meal, eggs, and (sometimes) chicken fat can be light, fluffy, and soft — the perfect things for soaking up a rich chicken soup. However, it's depressingly common to encounter dense, heavy matzo balls that are a chore to eat.

In an exclusive Tasting Table interview with Jake Cohen, the author of the cookbooks "Jew-ish" and "I Could Nosh," we asked what the secret to a light matzo ball was. His answer was definitive: "When someone's matzo balls are super dense, it's typically because they have too many eggs, so it's too high in protein — so it binds a little too hard." So, if you're making matzo balls, pay attention to the ratios; a good recipe shouldn't lead you astray.

However, even if you get your mixture perfect, you can still screw up your balls if you don't cook them enough. Cohen says, "The number one thing is you have to fully cook them. When people undercook their balls, the centers stay super dense versus being nice and fluffy." The lesson is, don't shortchange the cooking time just because the balls look done on the outside.

Once you've mastered matzo balls, it's time to make soup

Of course, once you've gotten the hang of matzo balls, you need to make a really good broth to float them in — nobody wants to eat dry, plain dumplings. Fortunately, Cohen has an in-depth guide for homemade chicken broth in "I Could Nosh," his most recent book, and he shared some of his soup tips with Tasting Table.

For Cohen, stock is a good place to use the odds and ends in your kitchen, which means not following an exact recipe. He starts with whatever chicken bones or chicken carcasses he has lying around and then takes a peek in his fridge to see what's there. "If you've got a ton of carrots, great — then you're going to use more carrots. If you've got parsnip, throw in a parsnip. Whatever kind of herbs you have, throw in all the stems and start to explore what that looks like for you." Slowly simmer the ingredients to create a clear, rich chicken stock, and you'll have the perfect base for matzo ball soup.