Celebrating Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms – A Recipe For Sucuklu Çintar Mantarı

We talk about seasonal foods in Turkey rather a lot on this blog and, while some seasonal foods tend to appear on Fethiye market on a more year-round basis – they’re just in their prime at certain times of the year – there are some foods that are truly seasonal; here one minute, gone the next.

That’s definitely true of certain types of mushrooms and, this season, because of how the weather has behaved (thank you, rain), the Fethiye area has been blessed with a healthy harvest of çintar (aka saffron milk cap mushrooms). We say ‘blessed’ because we look forward to this time of year with eagerness, loving this mushroom for its meaty texture. Last year, the weather wasn’t conducive to saffron milk cap abundance so we didn’t get our annual fix – too expensive. This year, however, we’ve bought in abundance…and that means we’ve been happily forced to experiment with different ways of indulging in our short-lived annual treat.

Sucuklu Çintar Mantarı

In the past, we’ve used these mushrooms for spinach and çintar risotto, spinach and çintar börek and also a very simple – but nonetheless, yummy – çintar mushrooms on toast. For this recipe, we’re cooking our saffron milk caps with sucuk; the famous spicy Turkish sausage similar to pepperoni or chorizo…except it’s beef rather than pork, of course. We like to keep life simple in our house and this recipe is really quick and easy; but it’s also one of those little decadent treats of a lunch that makes you feel life is good. This recipe will serve two people, generously.

Chopped Çintar Mushrooms & Sucuk

Preparing Sucuklu Çintar Mantarı

The rain must have been very heavy around the pine forests this year and all the çintar on Fethiye markets are damp and muddy. If yours are like that, give them a good wash and then leave them for a few hours to dry out a bit.

  • Chop around 250g çintar mushrooms into bite-sized chunks and then take half an onion, peel and slice into half moons.
  • Heat around a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and add the mushrooms and onions. Stir them around for 5 or so minutes until the onions are sweating and the mushrooms are softening.
  • Now add half a tin (around 200g) of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoonful of salça (tomato paste). If you’re living somewhere where the tomatoes are still ripe, red and summery, you can use 1 medium-sized chopped fresh tomato instead of tinned.
  • Grate or crush 1 large clove of garlic and add that too, along with a pinch of salt and pepper…and yeah, you know us; thrown in a generous amount of chilli flakes too, if you want. Of course, we want!
  • Now cut your sucuk into chunks until you have a decent-sized handful and add those to the pan.
  • Allow to simmer for around 5 minutes until the oils from the sucuk are released and the tomatoes are coating everything. (Add more salça if they look watery.)
  • Stir everything round so the flavours mix and then it’s time to serve.
Turkish Recipe - Çintar Mushrooms With Sucuk

A serving of sucuklu Çintar Mantarı

Lightly toast two small pieces of good quality, crusty bread (for those of us lucky enough to be in Turkey, regular taş fırın bread is perfect) and place them on a plate. Serve your sucuklu çintar on top. Our summer basil is still hanging on in there on the balcony so we tore a bit off and sprinkled it over the top.

Sucuklu Çintarı Mushroom Recipe – Useful Info

  • The highland pine forests of southwest Turkey are a natural habitat for çintar so they’re an affordable treat in the area. If you can’t get saffron milk caps (they’re pricey in the UK), experiment with other mushrooms. Chestnut mushrooms or other ‘meaty’ mushrooms would be good for this dish, too.
  • Other cured meats such as pepperoni or chorizo can be used for this dish if you can’t get sucuk.
  • This is not so much a Turkish recipe as a recipe celebrating local, Turkish ingredients – and why not!

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  1. From the photo they look a bit like Shitake mushrooms. What’s the texture like when cooked – I’m wondering if I could combine Shitake and chestnut to approximate the saffron milk caps? To my mind Shitake get a bit slimy and retain their shape more than chestnut. Cheers anyway – looks good – will be cooking this soon!

    • Çintar are a completely different texture to Shitake. They’re not slimy at all and stay quite meaty – no sliminess at all (I only know this because I’m not good with mushrooms – disliking lots, including Shitake). 😉 A saffron milk cap will retain its shape and texture, too. There’s a bit of fight in them, still, a bit like tender meat, if that makes sense. Me and Barry are discussing this in the house, now!! 🙂 Hope you can find something similar. Maybe a pro mushroom forager can help.

  2. Looks absolutely delicious!! Catherine

  3. OK – this is nicer than being called unknown 🙂

    I looked up Çintar on google – you are the second and third listings, so I dont think I am going to find too much help there 🙂

    I work near Mayfair, so I’m sure I could find a professional Mushroom person – but I’d need to get a second mortgage so I think I’ll stick with Tesco and just experiment a bit.

    I’m still working out if I can be bothered to go all the way to Kenington Green Lanes to get decent Sucuk… The “missus” is quite picky – I’ve been in shops in Istanbul with her and she feels them and smells them (I hope this doesn’t get picked up by Google – it sounds dodgy, but I actually am talking about Turkish salami!)

    • Ha ha, pleased to ‘meet’ you, Rob 🙂 The Latin name is Lactarius Deliciosus (I’ve probably spelled that incorrectly but it should pop up). Yeah, we poke and prod at sucuk, too, as we don’t don’t like the soft squashy stuff. 🙂 We get found in Google for all sorts of ‘interesting’ search terms. 😉

  4. The recipe looks great but I am resisting as the mushrooms are so gritty at the moment, I’m finding them a chore to clean. Any tips?

    • The çintar this year are ridiculously gritty aren’t they? Must admit, Barry did a better job than me at cleaning his half. Sounds like Joy (comment above) has a decent system. We soak and give them a good wash but we leave them to dry for a few hours, too, as çintar are so absorbent.

  5. Looks yummy! Guess I’d have to sub Polish kielbasa for the Turkish sucuk. 🙂

    We’ve had a good mushroom season here in Poland too. As far as cleaning mushrooms, if they are really dirty, I soak them once or twice in clean water. Rinse. Then, use my salad spinner to spin the mushrooms dry before using. Seems to be the best method for me!

  6. What a delicious combo, yummy! Elinize saglik : ) Ozlem

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