Exploring Turkish Cuisine, Mains, Recipes, Snacks
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Menemen – Turkish Scrambled Eggs

As you’ve noticed I hardly cook Turkish food even if I’ve been here for … god knows how long. What has kept me here for such a long time, you ask? Well, the very question has been asked by many dear friends of mine and my answer is always  “Dunno…people maybe?”

It frustrates me to death sometimes that I can’t eat the way I want and that the Turks have no idea what I’m talking about;

No pork
No good cheese – excuse me? – ok, I correct it to “no real tasty, raw milk cheese like French or Italian cheese”
No good wines
No good seafood – no prawn, no calamari, No mussels, no clams, no salmon, NO oysters … please…enough of Cupra and Levrek, which are like Dorado or Seabass – and what’s up with frying the hell out of every fish?
No duck – well, I can get frozen duck from Carrefour when desperate.
No real steak – meat is expensive and steak is always cooked extremely well-done
No real dessert and pastry – raspberry tart, chocolate mousse, cake with fresh fruit…grrr… please, no syrupy, sticky, nutty and extremely sweet desserts.
No basil or rosemary – I see them in people’s gardens and streets but it’s not used in cooking! Can we have some basil in place of cumin or parsley sometimes, please?

Sigh…I can go on but I’d better stop, otherwise I will be attacked by some haters. BUT…..there IS a Turkish dish I like and it’s called “menemen”. I even bragged about how delicious it was to my English friend, who is half Italian. Well, there are some other dishes I like such as lahmacun, gozleme, smokey eggplant dip, guvec, etc. but very few restaurants make them the way I like. It is not Turkish cuisine to blame but the mentality and attitude of people involved in food industry and eating habits. I will cut the politics in culinary short and get to the point. I will discuss it again when I review a restaurant I dined in recently.

Menemen is pan-cooked eggs, a cross between scrambled eggs and pasta. Sounds bizarre? The ingredients are similar to pasta sauce; onions, tomato and green chili peppers. Especially, long green chili peppers are what makes menemem uhh….menemen. 🙂 It should taste very peppery rather than tomatoey and often spicy. Sometimes slices of spicy Turkish saussage, sucuk, are added and can be topped with cheese. As the ingredients tell you, it makes a perfect hangover helper – eggs and chilies. Go on and add some bacon, too!

Menemen in some cafes doesn’t look that appetising to the eye, for example, like the one on the left – it reminds me of the food you bring out of your body to check after hard drinking. The one on the right looks far more appetising, with chucky bits that can be seen. Yes, it looks bloody red because I asked for extra chili flakes for my Korea guests, who craved “Korean spiciness”.

menemen-2

I know that there are Spanish and Italian versions which resemble this dish and I really liked the Italian Baked Eggs I had a long time but I think it was fusion because it had chorizo in it. I’ve found two recipes that say “Italian Style Baked Eggs”, one on Closet Cooking and the other on M&S Stories. Then I’v found Mexican Baked Eggs and Spicy Baked Eggs on BBCgoodfood. I don’t know which version is the original – most probably the Mexican one since tomatoes originated in Mexico – but I have a new version to add to the list.

This is Mushroom Menemen with Turmeric. It has a kind of flavour which you will connect to curried eggs. Honestly, this was not cooked by me, but Mr.O. He surprised me very much one morning with this amazingly delicious dish. I just gobbled it, without leaving much for him.

menemen-sig copy

I think his cooking skills have reached the level that no longer requires my supervision. My hard work has finally paid off, it seems. Since I didn’t cook it, therefore didn’t plan to write about it, that bloody blue plate happened to appear on my blog again *sigh*

menemen-1
Unlike the original menemen, it doesn’t have green peppers but you can add them if you like or enjoy the mushroom flavour without the interference by the pepper flavour, which can be quite dominating. That is why I don’t like peppers or capsicums on pizzas unless they are char-grilled, well-cooked and tender.

It is a really hearty and tasty menu for breakfast and I hope you will try one day. And guess what? I’ve just come across a blog that has written about an Indian version of scrambled eggs so I’ve added it below. It sounds interesting, too. If you don’t like or have mushrooms, you can always stick to the original recipe by leaving out turmeric and mushrooms and adding green peppers instead. Guess what? It is not just for breakfast, but it can be eaten for lunch or dinner, too!

Mushroom Menemen – Turkish Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 eggs, slightly whisked
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 mushrooms, roughly sliced
1 tsp turmeric powder
a pinch of chili flakes
sea salt and pepper
a pinch of dry thyme
red or green peppers(optional)

Steps:

1. Heat the pan with olive oil and sautee the onions first and mushrooms untill softened..
2. Add in the tomato, turmeric, chili flakes, thyme and salt&pepper and let it simmer for 5 minutes until it loses most of the moisture – not dried out completely.
3. Finally pour in the eggs and stir gentlely untill eggs are mostly cooked and still liquidy for about 1 minute. Do not overcook the eggs.
4. You can serve it straight in the pan with crusty bread or top it with grated mozzella cheese or parmesan.

2 Comments

  1. talkavino says

    Actually, we made a version of this dish somewhat regularly in my house back in Belarus – my dad called it an “Armenian omelette” – it was made every time we would have some tomatoes which were already past prime (soft and almost spoiled). I love this omelette, and we still make it from time to time. Yes, you can make it really spicy : )

    • Ah, that’s very interesting. So every country that grows tomatoes seems to have a similar dish. At first, I didn’t like the idea of mixing eggs with tomotoes but now every time I don’t feel like cooking dinner or there are very few items to cook with, I cook this for dinner. It’s that convenient! 🙂

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