Uyghurs comprise a small minority in Istanbul — with large enough of an appetite to warrant a dozen restaurants in the business districts of the old town, Aksaray and Eminonu. I walked into one and sat down with two students who came to Istanbul to study architecture. 

I’m talking about the cuisine of the disputed Xinjiang cuisine. The fusion of Turkic and Islamic tendencies and Chinese preparations.

Lagmen was the main attraction for my young friends — kaurma or kavurma with lagmen, aka. stir fried beef and vegetables with lo mein noodles. The noodles were made daily, in small batches in a similar technique to ramen noodles by pulling and stretching. Flour and water are the only ingredients in the noddles for the lagmen dish. A mildly spicy red pepper paste from the Xinjiang province and a barley vinegar were the main drivers of flavor in the stir fry. 

The dumplings are referred to as manti, which is the same word for little Turkish dumplings. The Uyghur version is prepared in the Northern Chinese tradition in terms of size. To meet Muslim needs, it was stuffed with a rich (with suet), hand-chopped beef stuffing rather than the ubiquitous and less expensive pork in Chinese preparations.

Simple, soulful and delicious. 

The soup was a thick beef broth with the pepper paste, romano beans, spinach and hand chopped noodles. 

There cold noodle salad was a curious preparation. The egg noodles were thick and chewy but also succulent submerged in the cold pepper broth and tossed with cucumbers to reminisce a salad with cukes and kimchi. 

What I noticed with the kebob was the use of suet. Health conscious Istanbulites prefer their kebobs leaner and therefore you don’t get too much beef fat in your kebobs. No fat, no flavor. But the Uyghurs are better than that. 

I would go back to eat Uyghur food any time! 

The Joy of Cooking Invasive Species - Modern Farmer

This is one of my favorite concepts in the convergence of biodiversity conservation and cooking — eating invasive species! Modern Farmer’s account of it is not only comprehensive but also enthusiastic. 

Siftah! You can only enjoy some things in season within a limited geography. This is the first time I had these sour plums for the last ten years that I’ve been in the States.  (at Nişantaşı) High-res

Siftah! You can only enjoy some things in season within a limited geography. This is the first time I had these sour plums for the last ten years that I’ve been in the States. (at Nişantaşı)

At the convergence of winter and spring, there are artichokes (enginar), nettles (isirgan otu), and watercress (tere) in Istanbul. I borrowed some sunchokes (yer elmasi) from the winter and put together this plate. 
I confit the artichoke in extra virgin olive oil with spices, as per a previous post. You basically heat the submerged artichokes on low heat without bringing the olive oil to a simmer. They take about thirty minutes to become melt in the mouth tender. 
The nettles are blanched, very conscientiously drained, and sauteed with five cloves of garlic confit (from the artichokes). Here is the ratio I worked with: Two bunches of nettles (picked and blanched) yield a fistful (~1/2 lb) of drained and chopped nettles. One cup of whole milk (reduced to half), two oz of sharp cheddar and a table spoon of butter is what I added to bring some richness to the plate. I started with one oz of cheese and doubled it after. Then I pulsed the mixture but left it well-textured. 
The sunchokes are roasted with thyme, butter, lots of salt and pepper. I worked with a 350F oven — but at this temp, you’ve got to toss and turn them fairly often. 
I won’t talk about the fillet. That’s easy. The sauce is pan drippings, reduced merlot and reduced veal stock. That’s it. Oh and the watercress is peppery, bright and awesome!  High-res

At the convergence of winter and spring, there are artichokes (enginar), nettles (isirgan otu), and watercress (tere) in Istanbul. I borrowed some sunchokes (yer elmasi) from the winter and put together this plate. 

I confit the artichoke in extra virgin olive oil with spices, as per a previous post. You basically heat the submerged artichokes on low heat without bringing the olive oil to a simmer. They take about thirty minutes to become melt in the mouth tender. 

The nettles are blanched, very conscientiously drained, and sauteed with five cloves of garlic confit (from the artichokes). Here is the ratio I worked with: Two bunches of nettles (picked and blanched) yield a fistful (~1/2 lb) of drained and chopped nettles. One cup of whole milk (reduced to half), two oz of sharp cheddar and a table spoon of butter is what I added to bring some richness to the plate. I started with one oz of cheese and doubled it after. Then I pulsed the mixture but left it well-textured. 

The sunchokes are roasted with thyme, butter, lots of salt and pepper. I worked with a 350F oven — but at this temp, you’ve got to toss and turn them fairly often. 

I won’t talk about the fillet. That’s easy. The sauce is pan drippings, reduced merlot and reduced veal stock. That’s it. Oh and the watercress is peppery, bright and awesome!