Pickled vegetables known as ‘turşu’ are found all over Turkey. At any food market you go to or in some suburbs you can find a ‘turşucu’ which is pickled vegetable seller. But the best turşu is homemade. Turşu is easy to make and lasts for a long time. Turşu is generally made when the particular vegetable you wish to use is in season and is therefore at it’s cheapest and the turşu is then stored in a cool dark place to be eaten during winter when vegetables are not so readily available. I’m waiting for the price of flat green beans (fasulye) to go down so that I can make fasulye turşusu.
In the Black Sea region of Turkey, turşu is added to fried onions and eaten hot as a breakfast dish. Being a lover of pickles and salty sour things, turşu is one of my favourite Turkish foods and is a regular on the breakfast table. I also love to use lahana (cabbage) turşusu as you might use sauerkraut, especially as a filling on sandwiches. My current favourite sandwich is made with grilled tofu, lahana turşu and acuka (which is a spread made of red pepper and tomato pastes mixed with nuts, spices and pomegranate molasses).
1 large cabbage (you could also use 2 or 3 small cabbages), washed and cut up roughly
About 1/2 cup or more of rock salt
1 whole bulb of garlic, finely diced
Chillies, finely diced or chilli flakes, to your liking
Wash and cut up your cabbage roughly.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add cabbage in batches cooking for approximately 7 mins or until just tender.
Remove cabbage from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place into a large bowl (enough to hold all of the boiled cabbage) and run cold water over the cabbage to stop the cooking process.
Repeat this process until all the cabbage has been boiled and then drain the water.
To the bowl where all your cooled cabbage is sitting, add the rock salt, garlic, and chilli and mix around with your hands, rubbing everything into the cabbage.
Stuff all of the cabbage and flavourings into a large sealable container and fill with water enough to cover the cabbage. Seal the container and place upside down for 24 hours. After 24 hours you can stand the container up and check the taste. If it’s not salty enough, add more sale. If it’s too salty add more water.
Your turşu is now ready to be used, but it tastes better if you leave it to pickle for a few days at least.
Okay so that’s how you make turşu. But if you want to eat it the Black Sea way and the way that I recommend, then there’s a few more steps.
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tbs Margarine
1 tbs oil
2 cups turşu, approx, cut into smaller pieces
To a cold pan add the margarine and oil and a very thinly sliced onion. It’s optional to add a few chilli flakes at this time. Put the lid on the pan and place the pan on the stove over a low heat and cook for about 5 mins. You want the flavour to come out of your onions and for them to soften but for them not to burn at all.
Then add the turşu to the pan and mix around so the onions are evenly spread throughout the turşu. Add some of the turşu pickling liquid. Put the lid back on the pan and cook for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
Note: If your turşu itself is too salty, then either wash the turşu before you use it or instead of adding the picking water to the pan, just add plain water.
Serve and enjoy.