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How to eat a knish

When I first moved to New York I knew that I had to try a few things: bagels with real lox and cream cheese, deli pastrami and a knish. I tried them all within my first few months here and fell absolutely in love, except with the knish.

Now I'm starting to think I didn't like knishes because unlike bagels or pastrami, a knish isn't a self-explanatory snack. Do you eat it cold? Hot? Dipped in sauce? With something on top? I tried a spinach knish from my next-door deli when I first came here and when they asked how I wanted it, I sheepishly said, "To go." I didn't know what the options were, but I wish I had since I found the knish to be much akin to a dried out hockey puck. Now whenever I go to market, I see myriad knishes waiting for a home and I'm willing to try if someone would just tell me how to do it like a real fresser.

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  1. I've always eaten my knishes plain, heated up. I prefer meat or potatoe knishes myself.

    1. Definitely hot and plain. (Okay, maybe a touch of mustard because I'll put mustard on anything.) I'm a kasha guy myself...

      2 Replies
      1. re: sea97horse

        Kasha for me too...wish I could get them here in San Fran!!!

      2. Always hot, or at least warm. If it's a potato knish, I like it with mustard, as a side dish with hot dogs or a pastrami sandwich. If it's a spinach (or other variety), no need to put anything on top.

        1. I like the round flaky knishes over the square fried looking pucks. I used to see "potato dogs" around in the old days. They were really good, they were usually deep fried in an eggroll like skin. To duplicate, take a cooked hotdog, and stuff it into a potato knish. heat the knish until crisp, and serve with mustard. That's my favorite way to eat them.

          9 Replies
          1. re: michele cindy

            They're supposed to be flaky? The ones I've had had the consistency of dense and dry mashed potatoes.

            1. re: JungMann

              The crust is what is supposed to be flaky.

              1. re: Shayna Madel

                Maybe I couldn't tell because the knish was cold, but it didn't seem that my knish had a crust. It seemed to be all all potato. Maybe I'm also buying bad knishes.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Since you had trouble finding the crust, I am assuming that you had a round one, not a square one. The square ones have a thick, sort of golden brown crust and some purists don't care for those. The round ones have a very thin layer of dough encasing the filling. Traditionally, the filling is potato, but some do meat, kasha, spinach, sweet potato, mixed veggies, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage--each mixed in with potato.

                  1. re: Shayna Madel

                    The best old-school kasha knishes I've found in the NYC Metro area are - strangely enough - from Hobby's Deli in Newark, NJ. There's been a deli at the current location for over 90 years, and they make the kind of very flaky, pastry-like crust filled with distinctly grainy kasha (not the kasha mush you commonly find, often blended with potatoes) that I remember from the 50's.

                    Kasha or potato knishes should, as others have stated, be heated to a pleasant warmness in an oven or toaster oven (never microwaved) and served with deli mustard (brown, spicy).

            2. re: michele cindy

              Where can you get round knishes in NYC? I've only seen square ones.

              1. re: chowmeow

                Surely you jest...try Yona Schimmel's, on Houston Street in Manhattan (www.knishery.com) or Knish Nosh, on Queens Boulevard, in Rego Park, Queens (www.knishnosh.com). Also, Katz's Deli (www.katzdeli.com), Carnegie Deli (www.carnegiedeli.com), Stage Deli (www.stagedeli.com), Ben's Deli (www.bensdeli.net) all Manhattan deli's, have them. I am sure that other Kosher/Kosher-style deli's have them, also, as well as some bagel places.

                  1. re: chowmeow

                    Glad to help. Hope that you have some and enjoy!

            3. Just hot, or sometimes hot with some mustard. Depends on the filling. Unfortunately, most places reheat them in a microwave oven, but they are really better if reheated in a toaster oven/convection oven/traditional oven. Yona Schimmel's, on Houston Street has a wide assortment. Also, in Queens, you could try Knish Nosh, on Queens Boulevard, in Rego Park has a few different types. Both are local institutions and YS is near both Russ & Daughters and Katz's Deli, also institutions, for smoked fish and deli sandwiches, respectively.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Shayna Madel

                ... and the mustard must be applied properly. Have the deli counterman cut the square knish the long way, parallel to the crust, spread the mustard on the potato filling and then close it back up.

                1. re: stuartlafonda

                  exactly what i was going to say! the mustard has to get right in there.

                  1. re: LNG212

                    Definitely the mustard goes in the middle. Sorry I did not specify that. I guess I am just used to doing it or the places I go to know what to do...

                2. re: Shayna Madel

                  And if you're in the Bronx (Riverdale section) make sure you stop in at Leibman's Deli. The knishes are good, the sandwiches great, the cole slaw magnificent and the pickles just outstanding!