Tag Archives: Tunis

TURKISH EGGS and UOVA AL SALMONE

 

Turkish eggs

As a child I always enjoyed eating what my mother called uova al salmone – and no, she did not add smoked salmon, they were really scrambled eggs in a tomato salsa, made in summer with fresh tomatoes, and the same salsa that was used to dress a summer pasta.

The colour of salmon is the result of scrambling eggs in salsa and uova strapazzate al pomodoro may have been a more appropriate name for this dish, but I, like my mother have always called it by this name (see second recipe).

What I really want to write about is what I call Turkish eggs (probably out of ignorance) – and not been Turkish I will not say that they are authentic and try to give them a name in Turkish. This is how I like to make them.

To make uova al salmone, add diced, peeled tomatoes, salt and pepper and a few fresh basil leaves to a pan with some extra virgin olive oil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, beat eggs then pour into the pan with the tomatoes and stir constantly. When they are creamy and cooked add a few leaves of fresh basil and serve.

What I really want to write about is what I have always called Turkish eggs – and not been Turkish I will not say that they are authentic and try to give them a name in Turkish but this is how I like to make them. And they are not just Turkish: they could be classed as Middle Eastern and I have eaten them in Tunis as well.

Tunis eggs

There are different versions of this Middle Eastern dish and many of them poach the eggs in yoghurt.

TURKISH EGGS

For 4 people, I use 8 eggs. Sometimes I have also added peppers (one or two thinly sliced – either the conventional ones, any colour or the long peppers slender ones (my mother always referred to these as frying peppers). If adding peppers, add them at the same time as the onion. Some also add Turkish sausage (called different names in different countries so I am not even going to try to give it its’ name as I could be off beam).

Although you can scramble the eggs, I like to poach them and I also like to add either parsley or coriander, cumin and/or caraway seeds.

On this occasion we had them as a lunch dish and I accompanied them with harissa, char grilled peppers and yoghurt on the side (take no prisoners!)

Ingredients:

8 eggs
8 medium/large tomatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
1-2 white onions or 3 spring onions sliced
½ cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
flavourings: herbs and spices

 

Processes:
Warm the olive oil in fry pan or pan with deep sides, then lightly fry the onions (and peppers) without browning.
After about 2-3 minutes add the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper( spices and/or herbs) and cook for 7-8 minutes until soft.
Gently make room for each egg (pockets) using a spoon and slide each egg onto its place in the pan. Cover and without disturbing the contents poach the eggs (over a low heat) until done to your liking (runny for me, never hard!)
Serve in the pan. I like fresh bread with mine, especially to eat the yolk.

 

UOVA AL SALMONE

To make uova al salmone, add diced, peeled tomatoes, salt and pepper and a few fresh basil leaves to a pan with some extra virgin olive oil and simmer for about 10 minutes. (Suggested ratio: 6 large tomatoes, 6 eggs)
In a bowl, beat eggs then pour into the pan with the tomatoes and stir constantly. When they are creamy and cooked add a few leaves of fresh basil and serve.

HARISSA (A hot chili condiment)

I was in Tunis recently and very much enjoyed one particular meal at a restaurant that was by locals and cooked traditional food. The restaurant was very hard to find and our map reading skills were not the best, but we were very happy with the range of food we ate there. Harissa seemed to be in most of the food we ate including some mixed in some oil, which was served as a dip as a starter. It had slices of cucumber and black olives in it.

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The other was a carrot dip also with Harissa.We dipped our bread into both of them.

I have been making and eating harissa for many years.

Harissa is a hot chilli condiment and ingredient and is the favoured national spice of Tunisia, but it is also popular in Algeria and Libya. It is very common to have harissa with couscous and I first tasted it in Sicily many years ago, which is very close to Tunis.

There are now many books about Middle Eastern cuisine (and North African) with recipes and variations for making it, but this version is very simple. I like to use whole caraway or cumin seeds rather than the powder and I do not usually weigh the chilli flakes, but the following ratio works well. In Tunisia they use a dry, very dark whole chilli, which produces Harissa with an intense colour. The chillies could also be smoked (hence their dark colour).

This photo is in my second book Small Fishy Bites and I took it in Tunis.

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150g dried chilli flakes
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
hot water to soften the chilli
1 tbsp whole caraway or cumin seeds
salt, 1 tablespoon
extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup for the mixture and a little extra to seal
Pour hot water on to the chilli flakes, (just enough to cover them) and soak for about 30 minutes. If using caraway seeds rather than powder, add these to soak as well. (The water will be absorbed and the flakes should swell).
Blend the ingredients in a small food processor.
Add the garlic, salt and some the extra virgin olive oil. You may need to add a little water – it should resemble a soft paste.
Pack into small glass jars and top with oil to seal. Replace the oil covering each time you use it.
To make the Harrisa flavoured oil simply mix 2-3 teaspoons of Harissa in about 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

Arabic Minaret Tunis

 

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WILD ASPARAGUS IN SICILY AND TUNIS (ASPARAGI SELVATICI)

Found this bunch of wild asparagus at Marché Central de Tunis and was very excited. I have eaten wild asparagus in Sicily but only on a few occasions because I have not always visited Sicily in spring. It is a spring vegetable and obviously the wild asparagus is appreciated in Tunis as well. Wild asparagus all over Sicily.

Next in Sicily and we found plants on our climb up La Rocca in Cefalu.

We then found plants growing in the garden at our B&B in Cefalu and took photos of the two types of plants which produce the wild asparagus shoots; although they are coming to the end of their season these plants had shoots.

To our delight we ate some where we stayed in the Agruturismo in the Madonie Mountains. It was cooked in a frittata and the shoots appeared again in a pasta dish with sausages made from the special, breed of pork only found in the Madonie and the Nebrodi mountains.(Slow Food)

For those of you who have  not eaten wild asparagus:
The shoots taste slightly bitter. They are the shoots of a very stubborn plant with sharp and needle-like leaves and the asparagus are difficult to pick.

You need to wash the shoots well, snap any of the woody ends just to the point at which the stalk bends and discard the very woody bottom. Cook the top part of the asparagus stalks in salted water and then use in the frittata or as an ingredient in the pasta. If they are not woody their tender tips are great raw.

I dressed Tunis asparagus with olive oil and lemon juice.

There was also much fennel around in Tunis and braised some in a little butter and a dash of red wine vinegar. It is not necessarily the way I normally cook it but one makes do when one is away and staying in an apartment and it did taste good.

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