One of the Four Questions we ask at Passover is about dipping food. On all other nights, the question goes, we don’t dip once. Tonight, we dip twice.
Not in our home. Here, we dip all year ‘round. We started doing this to encourage the kids to eat their vegetables. We kept doing it because why should the kids get all the tasty dips?
Dipping is Traditional in Many Cultures
As a kosher caterer, we incorporate parve dips with many of our brunch and lunch menus. People love them. The bowls come back swept clean and we always make sure to have extra dip.
Most of us Jews date our ancestry to the Middle East, where people dip morning, noon, and night. It’s a way to share food; traditionally, it was done among close friends and to indicate your regard for another person. Today, we share pass around dips like salsa while watching sports and movies. In fact, salsa—also a topping—is the #1 condiment used in North America.
Passover isn’t the only time we dip. We dip challah and apples into honey on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize our hope for a sweet year.
You’ll find dips used just about everywhere in the world, from just about every culture.
- Sushi should be dipped very lightly in soy sauce, says Tokyo sushi Chef Naomichi Yasuda, just enough for a taste of it. No dunking! It’s also OK to eat rolls wrapped in seaweed with your fingers, but sushi should be eaten with sticks. Wasabi is supposed to be added to the top of the fish, not the soy sauce although this is very common now outside Japan.
Is there such a thing as kosher sushi? Yes! Mitzuyan Kosher Catering offers a kosher sushi and sashimi boat station as one of our many kosher catering options.
- Thai and Indian cuisine are served with a variety of dips, including satay, chutney, pickle, and chili sauces.
- Greeks are famous for their tzatziki and eggplant dips.
- North Africa shares Middle Eastern culture and you’ll find duqqa, a dip made from different herbs and spices found in Egypt, and dipping soups further south on the continent. Many Indian dips are also popular in Africa.
- French dip, however, isn’t French. The French prefer light sauces to cover their food.
If You Can Hold It, You Can Dip It
Just about any food can be dipped, from bitter herbs to chips. Vegetables are a popular item to dip. As long as you can hold it with your fingers or spear it on a fork, it’s a candidate to dip.
Don’t confuse dipping food with dunking it, like donuts or Oreos. You want to saturate what you dunk, but lightly season what you dip unless you really dislike the food you’re dipping (see the reference to vegetable and kids above). And in the immortal words of Seinfeld, you can’t double-dip into a common bowl. “It’s like putting your whole mouth into the bowl!”
Try this recipe from Tori Avey for toum, a Middle Eastern garlic-based dip. It’s perfect for any meal, including a Seder.
- 3-1/2 – 4 c chilled sunflower or canola oil (saffron oil for Passover)
- ½ c peeled garlic cloves
- ½ c lemon juice
- ½ c ice water
- 1-3/4 t salt
- Chill oil in freezer
- While it’s chillin’ in there, remove the ends of the garlic cloves, split in half, and take out green layers inside
- Combine cloves salts, ¼ c lemon juice and ¼ c ice cold water in a food processor
- Process until smooth, turn off, and scrape sides of processor with a spatula
- Turn processor back on and drizzle chilled oil through the top as slowly as possible*, one cup at a time; after each cup, add 1 T each of lemon juice and cold water
- Stop and scrape the sides of processor as needed; make sure it doesn’t overheat or the sauce will separate
- Add oil until you have a texture you like; final result should be like soft mayonnaise
- Store refrigerated in an airtight container
- Makes 5 cups and can last about 4 weeks