All posts filed under: Exploring Turkish Cuisine

Chasing the Season: Sardines Wrapped in Grape Leaves

These days a lot of photos of Ahi Tuna are circulating on social media, teasing me who can’t even get any fish. Commercial fishing is banned from May to September in Turkey to protect fish population. You can still get farmed fish, though. However, I won’t resort to Norwegian farmed salmon, so I’m hanging in there waiting for the healthiest little fish to appear. And they have! But my stubborn FIL keeps saying firmly, “Not tasty yet. Wait till July!”  Ahhh~~~ I know if I’ll be rewarded with big fat sardines if I wait a bit longer. I’m usually great at delayed gratification but not with fish. So one day I decided to risk upsetting him, – he’s very serious about fish – and bought some without telling him. They were not as big as FIL would have liked but still pretty fat. The farmers market is full of goodness. Look at the 5 different kinds of cherries! And here you go, the fresh green chickpeas. This is one of those vegetables that you buy …

fig jam cheese platter

Tradition vs Reality: Unripe Fig Jam and Summer Scents

Summer finally! I’ve started to drink white wine! Especially this kind of job can’t be done without wine, can it? I miss those gypsies (or flower ladies) peeling and selling them in streets of Istanbul. I couldn’t see any peeled ones being sold here. So? I decided to do it with skin on but still had to trim them. Alas, I immediately regretted my decision as soon as I got on to it. Why? The sap was sticky! Yes, I was wearing gloves but still it was sticking to the gloves and everywhere. I mainly followed this recipe and this and this (video) when I could easily ring up my recipe source! Basically, you need cleaning out the bitterness, squeezing the little figs and a heck of sugar. I’d seen this jam flashing the vivid green colour and had only tried it once because of the sugar. I am human and I do like desserts – I eat sweets after every meal! – but there’s a level of sweetness I can tolerate. I always ask ‘az serbet(less syrup)‘ …

Spring Tradition: Goat Kid Caul Fat with Liver and Fennel (Ciğer Sarması)/ Firriato Wine

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 …

New Year, New City, New Life of an Oenophile

I hope everyone had a lovely new year celebration. As you know, 2017 didn’t start well in Istanbul and there’s a palpable sense of confusion and dismay. I had a strange feeling while watching the news from another city, sadness and relief. One day before the incident, we moved, moved permanently from Istanbul, which stole my heart 5 years ago. “Istanbul must be wonderful if it’d kept you with itchy feet for that long.” People would say as I have a history of changing a country every 4 years. Yes, Istanbul WAS and still IS a wonderful place to live. But it was time to move on for my life long dream, the dream to live in a city where fresh produce and good wine is abundant along with history. Mr.O and I had talked about moving to his hometown when we start a family because we believe that the best education for kids is nature. But it came earlier and suddenly so I didn’t even had the time to inform all of my friends about our move and some of them will learn …

Palamut(Bonito) Freekeh Sarma with Tahini Soy Sauce

Let’s have a break from the Sicilian story and talk about what I’ve been cooking. I’ve been cooking more Asian foods lately and experimenting a combination of Korean and Turkish flavours. I have affinity  to everything wrapped or rolled, which is ‘sarma’ in Turkish. It sounds even similar to the Korean word for wrapping, ‘ssam’! You’ll see this stuffed leaves or stuffed vegetables everywhere in Turkey, and they are usually made with rice and meat. Of all, the most common type is stuffed vine leaves and I have a very funny story to tell. We had a big row over the vines in our garden over the summer. Some friends of an upstairs granny came around to pick vine leaves from time to time but I ignored them, finding it rather cute that people even in the city go around foraging. Also, the vines needed pruning anyway. But then one day I came home to find the ladies in the garden and the vines stripped naked of leaves so I told them not to pick the leaves from inside. One day while our helper lady was …

Turkish Korean Wedding and Wine

When your friend is a reputable photographer and you hire him on a friendship base, it’s hard to be demanding. I’d been dying to see the wedding photos because it was such a special event, and it’s been almost one month and they finally came through. Not quite but still good enough to take a glance at what happened. The first time I stood on top of the temple of Athena in Assos three years ago, I said to myself, “I’m going to have my wedding here.” Despite everyone trying to dissuade me from going there early in the morning and getting exhausted under the beating sun, I stood firm and made it happen. It’s about 1.5 hours drive, total 3 hours, from Çanakkale, Mr.O’s hometown, where our wedding took place so they had a reason to object. But I WE DID IT! I did everything from makeup to hair because I didn’t trust Turkish hairdressers after my disastrous last experience. We did a very casual shoot, laughing and giggling – I feel sorry for …