Spring is all round and farmers’ markets are once again vibrant with the colours and smells of spring. Despite my ongoing laments for Turkey’s lack of gastronomy, one thing I did miss while I was in London was this fresh seasonal local produce.
All the wild plants started to come out, wild asparagus, fennel, ebegumeci, stinging nettles and what not. I’ve written an article about Turkish wild plants for Koreans since they are very keen eaters of wild plants. I might replicate it in English this spring.
Anyway, I put together a classic tasting platter using the goodies I’d brought; Jambon Iberico with Asparagus and Brie, Smoked Salmon with Fennel and Avocado. Yummy as always…
In my in-laws’ house, on the other hand, a different culinary tradition was happening.
The Thracian region has a tradition of eating lamb liver but Canakkale has a very special delicacy, which is eaten once a year in spring months. Goat Kid…
That tradition is the consequence of goat dairy production and, as the article says, it’s better to use it rather than waste it. I tasted kid meat for the first time 2 years ago and now I look forward to eating it when spring is inching in.
Goat kid is lean, tender and flavoursome so it’s roasted and eaten simply. However, the insides, specifically, the liver and the caul fat, have a special culinary status here as well.
Ciğar Sarması (aka. liver dolma) is an old Ottoman dish, which is mostly forgotten and hardly eaten by locals. I think it’s a shame that we’re making less use of the versatile delicacy, leaving it all to aspired chefs. The caul fat is called ‘gömlek‘, which means ‘shirt’. So let’s dress up whatever you’re cooking!
I find it fascinating that the weird intricate web of fat turns into a thin crispy layer. It’s an ancient method of cooking by wrapping it around meat to keep it moist in the cooking. However, in Turkey, it’s wrapped in seasoned rice with liver and baked.
This is what my father-in-law made last year and enjoyed with Turkish wine, Chateau Kalpak. I think my FIL makes the best liver dolma in Turkey.
It was eaten with other seasonal delights such as artichokes and fresh broad beams(fava beans).
This year, however, FIL made some changes to his recipe because now he has a tough audience, me. Usually, dolma dishes are made with an almost identical rice filling, regardless of what’s stuffed, whether they’re vine leaves, bell peppers, eggplants, mussels, etc.
So FIL replaced the usual dill and parsley for fennel, and tomato paste for turmeric. It was a nice change of flavours and we liked it all. It still included pine nuts and dried currants.
It’s important to choose the right caul fat and FIL insists on kid’s caul fat because it’s lacier and thinner. There are some restaurants that serve this liver dolma dish but they aren’t nice and hubby never eats it outside. So he’s the one who gets very excited about eating this in spring.
Perhaps I should buy some more caul fat and store it in the freezer to use in cooking some times. I can see how I can make dry meatballs and game meat juicy and moist. Hmm….
The wine I chose for the meal was Santagostino Baglio Soria, Firriato 2012. It’s one of the bottles I’d brought from Sicily, recommended by a chef as ‘a must’. Now I know why. It’s a pleasant and delicious wine that reflects Sicilian warmth combined with modern elegance. No wonder it won 3 glasses(top rating) by Gambero Rosso, the top Italian food and wine magazine.
It’s a blend of Nero D’avola and Syrah, and was loaded with ripe plum, juicy black berries, herbs and spices with earthiness and mineral nuances. It had a distinctive oak influence, which had developed into a lovely complex nose of chocolate, clove and licorice, and had a firm elegant finish. It’s supposedly an organic wine, too.
Well, if you come across this wine, don’t hesitate to try it. I think I’ll definitely drink it again if I have a chance.
If you’re interested in using caul fat and offal, here are some articles you might like. I hope this will inspire you to make something nice.