Pork ribs are not what you’d expect to be the highlight of an Israeli kitchen, but Tel Aviv native chef Gabriel Israel is not who you’d expect to be cooking it either.
The chef de cuisine at Green Fig (570 10th Ave.), which opened recently on the fourth floor of Yotel in Hell’s Kitchen, has done stints at Boulud Sud and the Shuka Truck, but before that he traveled the world as a graffiti and tattoo artist. His modern Israeli plates, paired with wines from the same region, teem with flavor and textures that show the hand of someone who’s used to making the most of vegetables. And it’s precisely because he keeps kosher and hasn’t worked much with pork that makes his “Not Kosher BBQ ribs successful.
Instead of throwing his lot in with one of the conventional styles of barbecue, Gabriel mashed up the base ingredients of all the regional sauces — vinegar, mustard and ketchup — then added Asian flare with sesame seed oil, orange juice and soy sauce. The ribs get a dry rub, too, and a kick from green zhug, a Yemenite hot sauce. It’s both a little sweet and hot, so tender the meat practically falls off the bone and a lesson in how bending the rules can yield great results.