Have you ever walked round Eminönü or Kadıköy and seen these rather unprepossessing terracotta-coloured slabs hanging from the ceiling in the local shops?
|pastırma hanging next to strings of dried okra|
Briefly, pastırma is cured during a month-long process involving salting the joints on both sides, and first one side then the other being exposed and left to dry for a total of 48 hours.
This is followed by rinsing and drying again for 3-10 days depending on the weather. Further processing and drying, this time in the shade, is followed by a spicy çemen paste made from fenugreek, red pepper flakes, garlic and cumin being spread all over.
|you can clearly see the çemen here|
This remains for 10-24 hours in hot weather and 1-2 days when it's cold. You can imagine how much taste this spicy paste imparts to the meat as well as how it protects it from drying out or spoiling. Then the excess is removed leaving behind a thin layer and the joints are dried for a final time.
|in Namlı, a shop in Eminönü - they sell everything!|
The redder the pastırma, the fresher it is. It turns brown in time, you see. Both fresh and mature are delicious: it's a question of taste which you prefer. You can buy it with or without the spicy paste but it seems to me that you might as well keep it as that's where the real taste is!
|the sign says Please Don't Touch the Pastırma|
Gourmets don't like machine-sliced pastırma like this - it
should be sliced by hand with a sharp knife.
|you also see it sold in vacuum packs like this|
It can be served cold as a rakı meze, or hot as in this dish, for example. It's also good for breakfast: fried eggs and pastırma/pastırmalı yumurta! Maybe you'd choose the çemensiz version - without the spicy paste - for this so that you don't start the day reeking of garlic!
Here is another hot recipe: we think it makes a perfect winter supper dish. it smells divine while cooking, and is certainly not difficult to prepare. All you have to do is remember to get the pastırma while you're out - get it cut thickly rather than thin like above. You're bound to have potatoes at home. Don't forget the rosemary as you need that taste to combine with the garlic and çemen ...
|here's the rosemary, garlic cloves, and pastırma!|
Ingredients for Potato with Pastrami and Rosemary/Pastırmalı Biberiyeli Patates
slightly adapted from Refika's 'Cooking New Istanbul Style'
Serves 2-3 depending on appetite!
5 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary/biberiye
a pinch of nutmeg
2 thick slices of pastırma with the cumin paste/çemen
6tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp black pepper,freshly ground
1 tbsp cumin/kimyon I DON'T KNOW WHY THIS IS HERE AS THE PASTE
IS ALREADY SPICY ENOUGH
Salt for the potatoes
- Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a saucepan of cold water, add salt, bring to the boil and parboil ie boil for a few minutes till they start to get soft.
|peeled and diced|
- Meanwhile, remove the spicy paste from the pastırma and add to the olive oil in a pan. Add the nutmeg and black pepper. Take the rosemary sprigs and hit them firmly with your fist to release the natural oils and then strip the leaves from the stalks. Add them to the olive oil too.
|I hope your mouth is watering!|
- Now, strain the potatoes and place them in a deep bowl. Add your olive oil mixture and gently stir so the potatoes are thoroughly covered with it.
- Tip everything onto an oven tray or pyrex dish and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven (350F/180C).
- Bake until the potatoes start to change colour. THIS TOOK LONGER THAN THE 10 MINUTES SPECIFIED IN THE ORIGINAL RECIPE. TRY 25 MINS.
- Then add the pastırma which you have sliced thinly, stir, and bake for a further 10 minutes till cooked.