The Israel Defense Forces is known for its military prowess, but has not yet won any Michelin stars for its food.
During the past few weeks, Inbal Bublil, Elioz Cohen and Tal Luzon, students of the culinary track at WIZO Vocational High School at the Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family, also known as WIZO Beit HaKerem, have been dealing with an almost impossible challenge; under the guidance of their teacher, Tamar Blay and with the help of a non-commissioned kitchen officer of the IDF, Yechiel Kalfon, they tried to turn the average, unappealing IDF field-ration into a compelling work of gastronomic art.
The competition, including a number of high-school culinary programs around the country, named, "From Field Ration to Gourmet," was launched by Israel's Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces and took place last week, at the Tadmor Hotelier School in Herzliya. The program encourages the students to join the IDF as "young chefs" in its kitchens across Israel. Each participating school was assigned a non-commissioned officer who acted as a professional counselor and held a year-long dialogue with the culinary students, culminating in the contest.
The students were challenged to create three dishes to be judged: a starter, main course and dessert, using army field rations as their inspiration and source of ingredients.
Inbal, Oz and Tal, the students from WIZO Beit HaKerem, showed real battlefield-spirit and determination and came in first place in all categories of the competition, including the toughest: the award for "the most balanced flavors." They returned to campus with an impressive trophy. Aside from scholastic pride and a rewarding experience, the contest also produced a cookbook including the schools' winning recipes.
WIZO Beit HaKerem Recipe: Tuna Cutlets with Oriental Sauce
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. salt
60-80 grams bread crumbs
3 garlic cloves
Handful of fresh coriander
1 hot pepper, roasted and peeled
1 tbsp. cumin
2 cans of tuna
2 tomatoes, grated
4-6 chili peppers
1/2 cup of coriander, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced
3 hot peppers, roasted and peeled
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tbsp. chili powder
4-6 tbsp. cooking oil
2 peppers, roasted and peeled
1 tsp. salt
1/2 kilo flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. dry yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
Oil, to grease hands and dough
1. In a meat grinder, grind together the tuna, coriander and garlic. Afterwards, add the finely chopped hot pepper
2. Add egg, bread crumbs, cumin and oil. Mix well until a semi-solid mass is achieved. Roll into palm-sized cutlets or balls
3. Boil the balls in water for 2-3 minutes
4. Strain and save the water used to boil the cutlets, it will be used as a fish stock
1. Grill the peppers. Afterwards, peel and slice.
2. Lightly fry the sliced peppers, adding garlic, tomatoes
3. Continue frying on a high flame, adding paprika, salt and chili powder
4. Add the fish stock
5. Adjust flavor as desired and bring mixture to a boil, adding the fish cutlets. Cook for 30 minutes, adding chopped coriander towards the end
1. Mix all the dry ingredients. Add water gradually until a soft, not-sticky dough is created. Baste the dough with water twice and then roll into 30-45 gram balls
2. Flatten the balls into pita shape, baste lightly
3. Bake the pita dough on an electric grill that was preheated to 350 degrees. Each pita should be baked for 2.5 minutes on each side