Friday, January 7, 2011

Recipe Heretic

As a pomegranate, I reserve the right to take what I like and leave the rest, wherever possible. Food seems to be the highest contender in this category. My menemen recipe is probably the best example I have of an adulterated Turkish recipe. My inlaws just can't get past the changes I make.

First, instead of hot green pepper, I use a sweet, red variety. Actually, it's the same kind of pepper that's dried into paprika and I've found plants in the garden centers with the "pimiento" label. A red bell pepper works almost as well. You'd think this substitution isn't a big deal, but apparently, it is.

My second act of recipe heresy: Although the dish has eggs, it is, in fact, a rustic peasant lunch or dinner. (OK, so I'll eat it cold the next day. IF there's any left! Also, I've read that it is a breakfast dish in some parts...just not at my inlaw's. Part of this misunderstanding might stem from the definition of  "Kahvaltı", which is next week's post.) Anyway, my key alteration to this classic dish is serving it over spaghetti. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs...only the eggs make menemen different from a good sauce in my eyes. However, you're supposed to serve it with crusty bread (which is tasty too). Some people add feta cheese or Sucuk (a spicy Turkish sausage), but the straight version is as follows:

4 T Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
4 small, red bell peppers, diced
1 long, green chile, diced (Omit if you like.)
1 clove of garlic - chopped. (Optional)
4 large, FRESH tomatoes, peeled and diced - This is the only thing that's irreplaceable. Make it with canned tomatoes at your own risk!
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 T Parsley, chopped.
4 Eggs

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent, then add garlic, peppers, chile and sauté them until soft. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer to reduce liquid until the mixture has a sauce-like consistency. Add parsley, eggs and cover until eggs are firm, but not dry. My inlaws swirl the eggs into the sauce. (I like mine "kayısı gibi" - like an apricot...a little undercooked in the center. The travesty!)

If you like cheese, add some crumbled feta at the end. If you have sucuk, fry it first and use the pan drippings to fry the onions, etc. If you eat pork, pancetta might be nice instead.

Any other creative suggestions from my foodie followers? Alesa? Rayna?

Interesting Aside: Menemen is a town near Izmir.
Menemen




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15 comments:

ice-bjorn said...

Looks delicious. Think I've had a version of this before, in Turkey, many years ago...

Alesa Warcan said...

LoL... Well, if we're going the route of culinary transformation of a classic recipe...

We could take this preparation, perhaps thickened with a bit of potato or cheese, stick it into into fresh tortelloni (a kind of pasta normally stuffed with ricotta and spinach), dunk in boiling water and serve over creamy scrambled eggs or under poached eggs/sunny side up (so long as the yolks run over the tortelloni). Served next to a simple and refreshing cucumber and chicory salad with balsamic vinaigrette and cracked black pepper.

Or you could stick them into pierogi (Slavic dumplings made from unleavened dough and shaped into crescents) and fry them, serve them in a small amount of thin broth, chicken perhaps, something that would discreetly complement the texture of the fried pierogi and the bold flavour of the menemen within.

Or we could go a pastry route make something looking like a "bouchée à la reine" (looks like a small hollow cylinder of puff pastry; just use store bought to short cut. Really easy to make) filled with alternating layers of menemen and buttery scrambled eggs, served topped with... with... sliced red onions and caramelised in goose fat! Heheh. And with some dry smoked ham and a wedge of ripe fresh melon on the side. Perhaps toasted chopped walnuts should be involved at some point, maybe with the onions.

Anything is possible! ...So long as you inlaws don't get in on the action, right? ; j

Katie Mills said...

Ugh, I loved the food in Turkey. Actually, when I got pregnant with my second, my cravings were so strong I tried (and failed) to recreate the Doner Kebab I had at this restaurant in Turkey. It had the traditional meat but was served on a slice of warm pita bread with a tomatoe based sauce and yogurt. Mmmm...

Old Kitty said...

Oh you rebel!! LOL!

Ooh but this is as close to vegetarian as I like!! Yum, yum!! I might try this too now!!! Basically fry everything and add eggs!! Love it!!

I think a little creativity in a set dish is a great thing!!! I do this all the time with my baking - a little less sugar, more chocolate bits, a bit more alcohol...etc!!! I think cooking should be as flexible as possible - so long as you have the basics then the cooking world's yours for the taking!!

Take care
x

Sarah said...

I love adapting recipes according to my frame of mind and contents of the fridge. So it might not be a classic example of whatever, that doesn't mean to say it can't be good.

Carolyn V. said...

Ummmm, It sounds so good! I'm attempting to adapt recipes so I'm eating better. =)

Jules said...

I don't follow directions either :) How about just a touch of nutmeg? Sounds crazy but I found out it brings out and accents all the other flavors :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

The Golden Eagle said...

If the recipe has stuff I don't like or has unhealthy foods in it, out go those ingredients. :P

Deniz Bevan said...

Menemen is one of my favourite dishes, and I don't mind changeups - I would never have thought of serving it over spaghetti, but boy does that sound yummy!
Now if only I could get kiymali kasarli pide over here...

Ayak said...

We have menemen quite often and I always adapt it depending on what I have (or haven't) got in the fridge. My Turkish in-laws think I don't cook it for long enough because the peppers still have a "bite" to them, but I hate the way Turks over-cook vegetables. In fact they don't like the way I cook pasta and rice either because I prefer them al dente. Fortunately they don't visit too often!

Deniz Bevan said...

Lol Ayak - I love overcooked vegetables and DH always complains that I've made them mushy. Mmm, dreaming of some lovely mushy pirasa right now...

Ayak said...

Haha Deniz! After almost 13 years here I am very used to overcooked veg. No offence intended by the way..it's a matter of taste isn't it and not just a cultural thing...my English mother used to overcook too! My husband used to complain but I guess he's used to my cooking now!

Clarissa Draper said...

What a delicious looking recipe. I'm going to try it some day soon.
CD

LTM said...

Wow! That looks DEE-lish... :d I think I'd prefer the crusty bread to the spaghetti, though... what? :D <3

Christopher said...

I think I need to try to make that. It looks delicious...

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