Sunday 23 November, 2014 by Uncle Spike
What the heck am I on about? Well, Deniz Börülcesi, as we call it in Turkish, is a salty, seaweedy type of thing, or so I used to think. Don’t blame me; the literal translation from Turkish is “Sea Beans”, but in fact it’s actually grown in salt marshes rather than in the sea, and goes by the posh name of Salicornia Europaea, or you might know it as Common Glasswort, or even just Glasswort.
Here we serve it as a cold side-dish, and those of you who have visited Turkey may have even tried some. Anyway, if you have had the pleasure, or are just intrigued, here’s how we prepare it in the Spike Kitchen.
Often it is sold at out massive outdoor markets along with other veg, especially in coastal towns. We buy it in wraps of say 2″ or 5cm girth. The roots are often still dirty so it needs a good soak and a few rinses first of all.
After cleaning, it is thrown into a large pot of boiling water, and kept at a steady boil for about 10-15 minutes. It is ‘done’, when the green flesh starts to darken in colour, and the flesh separates from the stem without any effort.
Simple bit, just drain and let it cool off for half an hour or so.
Then the fun bit starts. I actually find it quite relaxing, and it’s certainly not a difficult or overly manual chore. The only bugbear is when Aunty Spike comes home with 8 or 10 wraps of the stuff, and then promptly disappears off to work for the next five days 🙂
Gripping the solid root in the fingers of one hand, you can easily separate the flesh from the stalk with the other. The flesh is soft, but slides off from the stalk easily if sufficiently cooked.
Eventually you end up with a pile of stalks/roots, which can be thrown away (or for the compost heap), and a bowl of the finished article.
It can be used straight away, or kept in the fridge for a week, or frozen down. I tend to freeze down a few bags full (e.g. one large hand grab is enough for one serving for two people).
Served as a cold side dish, all you need to do is add a good load of olive oil, and then a choice of lemon juice or grape vinegar. We tend to use a bit of both. The olive oil and the lemon juice counteract the naturally salty taste.
To finish it off, add some sliced or diced garlic on top, and you’re good to go. Keep in the fridge until the rest of the dinner is ready, or serve as part of a selection of meze’s (starters).