Thursday, November 29, 2012

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!

Afiyet olsun

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!

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi joy! i saw these mushrooms on another turkish blog recently. i have never seen them before but i sure would love to try them some day! this is a really good mushroom recipe you might like. so, if you find more of these you might want to give this a try. it is sooo good!

Alan said...

Janet said 'Wash mushrooms!!!' Çıntar are something we enjoy greatly during this season - our forests are full of them. Prices vary depending on how prolific they happen to be - this week we paid 6TL per kilo and gorged ourselves! Don't worry about the green bits, don't let them get wet/washed and use lots of oil - served up in the pan it's great to dip fresh bread into the juices.

Joy said...

@Joyce, thanks so much for the recipe idea! I'm hoping these Turkish mushrooms will still be at the pazar this weekend. :-)

@Alan, cheap, cheap for you! Maybe our price will go down this week, but it IS Istanbul, so who knows? But these mushrooms were filthy dirty. The sink was full of dirt afterwards. Normally, I just rub with a cloth, but these had extra forest "gunk" on them. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm a regular eater and forager of SMC's and love to cook them up with butter garlic and onion...and depending on what I can find I'll add some foraged greens such as wild radish or wild mustard lambs quarter or nasturtium...and add either yoghurt or cream. fennel and fennel seeds go well with Cintar also. Add some Chorizo or on sourdough toast and top with cheese...any cheese...the more local the better...yum!

In Australia they sell for $30 kilo wholesale and up to $60 kilo retail. Which is how I finance my hobby.

Unknown said...

Hello all! I am Turkish and from Izmir region. I grew up eating these mushrooms. They often a size of a personal size steak (on the smaller size if you compare the USA steaks). My grandma used to forge them or buy them from the bazaars as mentioned above. Unfortunately there is a poisonous sibling of these mushrooms hence you should be very very careful. But the recipe I grew up with is, (1) you wash them well, just like the author. (2) do not chop them, you cook them on a frying pan just like (relatively thin cut) steaks. It tastes like steak. It is super delicious. If you are trying to be vegetarian and missing your delicious steak, this would be your best substitute. Of course the above recipes are very good, too. Hope you can find some and enjoy some. It has been over 20 yrs since I had tasted these the last time (I moved) ☹️.