Grilled sweetbreads (Tr.: Uykuluk) with oregano and crushed Aleppo peppers
Sütlüce is a district of Istanbul on the Golden Horn that is also referred to as the sweetbreads district. A dozen sweetbread restaurants line the shore over a mile long stretch of the lagoon.
Uykuluk is an old tradition in Istanbul, especially in this district. While it’s out of the way, it’s worth a visit if you’re an aficionado. Parboiled and finished on the grill, it has a sweet, nutty as well as gamey taste, which comes forward very well with the ubiquitous oregano and Aleppo pepper combination.
I must say, folks who work with sweetbreads in other parts of Istanbul claim that in this district other glands of the animal are used as sweetbreads, replacing the saught after pancreatic and thymus sweetbreads. I am a big fan, regardless.
The text is part of his contribution to ‘How I learned to cook’!
You know, for instance, before you leave your home city, that the equipment on location will be unreliable. When the producers say, “We have a full kitchen and all the tools you’ll need,” they usually mean, “We have a smelly, underpowered dollhouse electric stove and some donated crap-quality cookware that’s still encrusted with the remnants of the camera assistant’s reheated chili.” When they say, “We can get all the ingredients you’ll need,” they mean, “If they don’t have it at the local Stop & Shop—you’re fucked. What is arugula any way?” When they say that your segment host is “a really adventurous eater” it means they like mayonnaise on their curly fries.
I learned this last lesson when I found myself feeding steak tartare to a regional “gourmet” host on yet another morning news and banter show. You know the one: unnaturally happy blond cohosts in fright makeup, pausing between anecdotes of their weekend and sips of coffee to read news stories. Often there’s a “chef” on these programs—some hapless burnout from a nearby country club kitchen—typically with a cheery moniker like “The Sexually Repressed Greengrocer” or “The Prozac-Gobbling Gourmet” who makes the occasional appearance to signal the advent of rhubarb season, or to show people how to make their bundt cake uglier. They are introduced to visiting chefs as “Our chef …” who is (of course) “happy to help you with anything you need.” They usually hover in the distance, glowering at you from their dim cubicles, exuding failure, smashed hopes, with only the prospect of a return to a lonely apartment populated by one too many cats in their future. The crews love them, though. They give them bundt cake. I thought the steak tartare was a shrewd idea. I wouldn’t have to rely on the studio for any cooking equipment. I’d bring my own plates, my own locally (and easily) acquired ingredients. I had a metal ring and a knife and a spatula in my kit. I figured to chop the steak by hand— impressing with my fast, furious, and
precise knife work. I’d quickly fold in the mustard, capers, chopped cornichons, and shallots, swirl in the egg yolk, and neatly shape the result in the metal ring. A few pre toasted croutons would make it easy for my host to take an on-camera taste. “Mmm! Now that’s tartare!” Retire to the hotel to the sound of deafening kudos … Didn’t happen. Apparently, the practice of eating raw meat had not penetrated this far into America’s interior. News of mad cow disease had reached the state, however, because the host looked on in terror as I forced the uncooked egg and beef concoction into the metal ring, the idea dawning on her that yes … yes … she would be required to eat this thing absolutely raw. The word Ewww! actually escaped from her lips as she tenuously reached for a meat smeared crouton. Like a nun giving a blow job, she took the tiniest nibble, fighting the urge to gag—her head swimming with images of spongi form bacteria riddling her brain, turning it into swiss cheese. When the segment was over and she’d spit the tiny taste out into a trash bin, she fixed me with a look of such pure loathing that it haunted my dreams. (A vengeful and enraged morning-show host invading your dream scape is a terrifying image, believe me.)
Witherspoon, Kimberly; Meehan, Peter (2008-12-09). How I Learned To Cook: Culinary Educations from the World’s Greatest Chefs (pp. 79-81). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Kindle Edition.
I’ve had pho only a half dozen times — I haven’t read anything about the broth yet either. The only thing I know about pho comes from my limited exposure in Harrisburg, PA (and once in Chinatown in NYC) and Bourdain’s trip to Vietnam. This is my attempt at winging it.
A broth is absolutely necessary but I understand that it wasn’t a stock in the French sense of the word — no mirepoix maybe no caramelization either.
I bought some short ribs, boiled them without anything and refridgerated the liquid overnight. strained the liquid and boiled again. This time I threw in a whole dried ancho pepper. I also boiled some raw shrimp. Maybe this step is extraneous but I added the shrimp broth to the liquid as well. Then I seasoned my broth. So far so good.
I worked with rice vermicelli before — I know it takes a little while to cook even in boiling water and I don’t like to cook it in direct heat. So, I soaked it in warm water as I was getting the rest of my ingredients ready.
I picked my mint and basil; peeled and deveined my Ecuadorean shrimp; and chopped my lime and grabbed my Sriracha; lats but not least, I sliced my beef and seasoned it very lightly.
The vermicelli was soft at this point but certainly not ready to eat. I picked it out, strained it and put it in my serving bowl. I poured my broth on top. I made a little mountain with the rice noodles in the middle. I cracked an egg, separated the yolk and put it on top of the mountain.
The rest is just assembly — garnish to taste. Yummy!