We talk about seasonal foods in Turkey rather a lot on this blog and, while some seasonal items 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
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.
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.
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!