Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Exotic Ingredients~What is Sumac?

No, its not what you think.



Sumac is a shrub which grows wild in the Mediterranean region, and this sumac is not toxic or poisonous. This non-poisonous variety also grows in other areas around the world and can be a colorful addition to home landscaping.
Ground sumac is a dark red-burgundy color. As a dried berry, ground sumac has a nutty texture when used dry.
The use of sumac came to Greece from the Middle East where it is more widely used. In Greek cooking, sumac is used as a rub for grilled meats, and as a flavoring most notably on meats, in stews, and in pita wraps. It is also used in rice and vegetable dishes.
It has a sour, lemony taste and can be used, mixed with water, instead of lemon juice. It is one of the ingredients that gives za’atar its characteristic flavour and is often used in marinades, with tomatoes, onions and in savoury pastries.


Recipe

Sumac-Dusted Oven Fries with Garlic Spread
serves 2-3
4 medium-sized russet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons sumac
Preheat oven to 350. Peel potatoes. Cut one potato in half and set aside one of the halves. Slice the remaining potatoes into 1/2-inch strips. Toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake 30-35 minutes, giving them a stir every 10 minutes or so.
Roughly chop the reserved potato half. Bring to a boil in salted water and cook until soft. Drain and roughly mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, make a paste with the head of garlic. Follow Emma's instructions here. Place garlic into a food processor or blender and add 2 tablespoons of mashed potatoes and 2 tablespoons of water. Add a little more potato or water as necessary. You want the spread to come together, but it won't be super creamy.*
When the fries are done, remove from oven and toss with sumac. Serve with spread on the side.
*Note: Conceivably, you could skip the garlic paste process and toss the whole cloves into the blender or food processor with some salt. But this was the process I used (with a hand blender), with good results.
To give credit where due, the recipe was inspired by a dish from Semiramis in Chicago.

Sources
about.com
thekitchn.com



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