Cooking

Party of Five-Spice

Go big with Leah Cohen's fragrant, five-spice-rubbed brisket
How to Make a Five-Spice-Rubbed Brisket
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

With Passover coming next week, we've already been fighting with our families over who's hosting which night of seder and, more importantly, what's on the menu. Last year at Tasting Table, we went super traditional with our seder menu, so this year, we want to switch it up. That said, we can't give up on brisket—many a tear has been shed on years we didn't serve the Passover staple.

Enter Leah Cohen, chef of Pig and Khao in NYC. Having grown up with a Jewish father and Filipino mother, Cohen shares some highlights of her past Passovers with us and even offers up this five-spice-rubbed brisket braised in a fragrant broth of ginger, garlic and scallions (see the recipe).

"I was like a fake-out Jew around Passover," Cohen tells us. "My mom is from the Philippines, so we pretended like we were Sephardic Jews and ate rice." Most seders, however, were spent at her paternal grandmother's house, where she was exposed to all the Ashkenazic basics: brisket, matzo ball soup, haroseth and gefilte fish.

When we asked Cohen to develop this recipe, she called upon both of the cultures she grew up with. "I wanted to make something with flavors that I work with at the restaurant yet still kosher for Passover. The broth is similar to my pho broth, charring the onions and ginger first."

In addition to the blackened vegetables, the star in this braise is the unique spice blend. Five-spice powder consists of ground cloves, star anise, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds. It adds the perfect warmth and spice to any dish—especially a hearty one like this four-pound brisket, which is seared before it's braised low and slow for three hours.

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Cohen insists on serving this brisket with a bowl of rice—contraband to non-Sephardic Jews during Passover. But if you're not looking to go rogue at the seder table (no judgments here), she suggests substituting cauliflower rice for the perfect kosher side dish to soak up all that broth.

As for the leftovers, there is only one option for the day after: matzo banh mi. Cohen packs sliced brisket, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs on matzo, making sure to spoon on plenty of that braising juice. Trust us: It's liquid gold.

Take all these leaps with your traditional brisket. Do it for the seder good.

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