Turkish cuisine is made up of many different types of dishes and one of its most comforting foods is the sote dish. Because of this ‘cosy comfort’ feel, we usually eat Turkish sote dishes during the winter months.
However, we do like to break with tradition on occasion. Recently, even in warmer months, we felt the urge to do our et sote recipe (a rough translation is beef saute).
There’s a reason why this came about. But first, a little bit about the sote dish and its ingredients…
Sote, Saute or Stir Fry?
You can probably work out from the photos why we usually wait for the colder months before making our own Turkish sote dishes at home. On menus in many of the restaurants in tourist areas such as Fethiye, this beautiful, rich-tasting sote dish is often called a ‘Turkish stir fry.’
For us, this description says so little. ‘Stir fry’ suggests a hot wok, crunchy vegetables and maybe meat or seafood tossed around for a couple of minutes before being served, still crunchy and hot. That’s not what the sote dish is.
If we turn to the English language and say ‘Turkish beef saute’ or ‘chicken saute,’ that suggests the meat has been quickly fried. And yes, it has been quickly fried. But then comes the sauce and the gentle simmering. No, the sote dish is its own being.
Cook Sote In A Pan Or A Saç
Yes, a frying pan or a saç is used but a sote takes time. It’s more like a tomato-based stew that (in the UK at least) would be cooked in a casserole bowl or stewing pot in the oven for a few hours on a low temperature. But, a lot of Turkish dishes are cooked on the hob and sote is no different.
Inspired By Stale Bread
So, anyway, we were telling why we decided to make et sote recently, despite the warmer weather. Well, during the month of Ramazan in Turkey, you might know that a special type of bread is served up by the local bakeries.
Turks love to eat their bread fresh but, there is also a big thing that you never waste your bread. So, rather than throw it away, it’s common to fry the Ramazan pidesi up the following day and serve with other dishes.
There’s only two of us in our house and we had half a loaf leftover. It wasn’t stale but it certainly wasn’t super fresh, either; a couple of days old. Time to join in with the good people of Turkey and come up with a recipe. We decided to combine our et sote with the tradition of frying the bread.
How To Make Et Sote
We used around 250g of cubed beef (kuşbaşı) for this recipe. We’d been to our favourite butchers in the local fish market and bought half a kilo. Barry had made a beef jalfrezi with some of the meat and we’d used the warm, fresh pide bread as a substitute naan. Et sote and the bread leftovers were to be my domain.
For this Turkish beef recipe, you don’t want huge chunks of beef. If they’re large, cut them up into smaller pieces. Roughly 1cm cubes. This way, the beef will soften quicker. The last thing you want in your et sote recipe is chewy meat!
Frying In Butter!
Yes, that yellow blob you can see in the top left photo is a knob of butter. All those rich flavours many of us love in Turkish dishes – you soon learn that butter plays a big role in cooking, here. We try not to use it too much, but for some dishes, we take the plunge. This is homemade village butter.
Mmm, it’s a homely comforting smell as the butter starts to sizzle and the juices from your beef chunks are released. They’ll mingle and bubble away until eventually reducing. Once they’ve all but disappeared and your meat is browned you can add chopped onion and green pepper.
Time For The Tomatoes
Once your onions and peppers have softened a little, this is where the ‘Turkish stir fry’ or ‘beef saute’ description kind of loses its way. As you can see, we’re now heading into the realms of a tomato-based stew. ,
Depending on the cut and texture of your beef, you’re now going to let this simmer away gently until your meat softens. If you’re doing a tavuk sote (chicken saute), or a sebzeli sote, your simmer time will probably be reduced.
Anyway, once all that’s done, you can either serve immediately or keep to one side and reheat it when you’re ready to eat. Let’s do our et sote recipe and serve it with the bread leftovers.
Our Et Sote Recipe
Et Sote Recipe - Beef Saute In Tomatoes
For The Et Sote
- 250 g cubed beef
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes 1 chopped & 1 grated
- 2 green peppers cored & roughly chopped
- 1 onion peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 fresh chilli finely chopped (optional)
- 1 dessert spoonful tomato puree
- 1 knob butter
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 handful parsley finely chopped (to garnish)
- salt & pepper to taste
For The Bread
- 100 g bread
- 1 knob butter
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
For The Et Sote
- Add your meat & butter to a frying pan and cook on a medium heat.
- Once the juices have reduced, add your onion & pepper (and chilli, if using).
- Stir around until your onion & pepper have softened a little.
- Now add your grated tomato & simmer for a few minutes to allow your beef to cook through.
- Add your chopped tomato, oregano & seasoning and stir.
- After a couple of minutes, add your salca & around 100ml water.
- Stir until your salca has dissolved and simmer until your beef has completely softened.
- Add more water if your sauce thickens too much.
- Remove from the heat.
For The Bread
- Roughly cut your bread into bite-sized chunks.
- Heat the butter & chilli flakes in a pan & add the bread.
- Stir around until the bread starts to crisp & toast (around 2 minutes).
- Arrange the bread around the edges of two large bowls and add your et sote to the centre.
- Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
- As well as beef, sote dishes can also be made with lamb, chicken or vegetables.
- Other accompaniments can be rice or bulgur wheat pilaf.
- As with all our recipes, calories are approximate and meant as a rough guide.
How To Serve Your Et Sote
And that’s how you make et sote, aka the Turkish stir fry. Easy and tasty and a little hint of Ramazan in serving it with the special bread from this time of year. Other traditional accompaniments for the et sote recipe are a side dish of rice or a serving of healthy boiled bulgur wheat.
As we’ve mentioned, it is just not the done thing to waste bread in Turkey. It’s part of the culture that you respect it and so there are many recipes that make creative use of ‘bayat ekmek’ (stale bread).
This doesn’t necessarily mean the bread has become the texture of a brick. It’s just not super fresh. We hate to waste food and leftover bread is a common problem in our house so we intend to experiment further with these recipes.
If you like to cook at home and love Turkish food, we have a whole recipe collection, here, where you can experiment with Turkish cooking.