Every now and then, I still find an odd looking fruit or vegetable at the pazar, and wonder 'what the heck is this?'
Last week, I discovered a mountainous pile of salmon-colored mushrooms with a bizarre blue and green marking on their caps. Only one stall at the pazar had these, and every Turkish woman seemed to be pushing everyone over to buy their share.
Of course, that meant I had to get pushy in order to get my hands on these strange mushrooms too. They must be good, right?
I grabbed a plastic bag, stood my ground, and started collecting my half kilo of mushrooms. I paid my 7.50 tl ($4.00 USD) and still wondered what the heck I had just purchased.
Once home, we did some research online and found the mushrooms are called çintar mantarı in Turkish (Lactarius deliciosus in Latin or Saffron Milk Cap in English). These mushrooms are often found in the forested regions of Turkey such as the Izmir province and down by Fethiye and Antalya.
|Here you can see the strange blue-green markings on the mushroom caps.|
I don't know why I've never noticed these at the markets before. This weekend, the mushrooms might be gone. You never know.
Well, the çintar mantarı are a very dirty mushroom, I soaked them in the sink and then scrubbed the dirt off from the outside. Then, I layed them out on a towel to dry for awhile.
|A pile of cleaned çintar mantarı.|
As far as cooking, I took a simple approach with the çintar since they seemed very meaty, similar to a portabella mushroom. I simply sautéed with Turkish olive oil (from Cunda Adası), added lots of chopped garlic, followed by salt, pepper and a generous spoonful of pul biber.
The mushrooms served as a side dish with roasted chicken one night and then as a splendid topping to my Curried Cauliflower Soup another night.
However, you want to eat them, enjoy the seasonal çintar mantarı while you can!
Sautéed Çıntar Mantarı
500 g. çintar mantarı, washed, dried and chopped into medium-sized chunks
2 T. Turkish olive oil
6-8 ea. Cloves, garlic, roughly chopped
To taste salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. pul biber (Or simply add to taste if you like it spicy.)
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil.
When the oil is heated, add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook this mixture for about 8-10 minutes to soften the mushrooms. They take a little bit longer since they are a meatier mushroom.
Add the seasonings. Cook for two minutes. Taste and then adjust the seasonings as you would like.
These mushrooms also would make a delicious topping to a grilled steak!