Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions
Spring time always inspires me...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unreavealing with Difficulty the Secrets to Making the Sumac Concentrate Recipe

Here am I again on my computer... nothing is new, as I'm doing this every single day of my life (till I finish Mouneh). Nothing else will be done till then, it's a promise I've made to myself. Not easy for this frivolous, wanderlust who thinks of taking the car and her prized camera and roaming, yes just roaming into the streets, mountains, and all geographical areas of Lebanon... That's been put on hold for the moment. I am suffering deeply... I'll spare you the details...

So today I am writing about sumac. For those who may not know about sumac, it is the dried berries of a shrub which grows widely all around the region, both in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean. The shrub contains hairy leaves and branches and grows to a height of about 3 meters (10 feet). Deep red clusters of berries hang on the branches. They are picked in season to be dried and ground into a coarse powder. The powder, which has an astringent taste, is used as a spice and a souring agent. For us Lebanese (the ahhh kind!), we use it to flavor our fried eggs (can't image the eggs without), sprinkle it on fattoush, use it to rub meats, chicken, and fish before grilling. Nowawdays, chefs and home cooks are experimenting with sumac and coming up with creative combinations.  

I have found an interesting concentrate or juice in Anjar made by Armenian women. Do you think they wanted to share their secret recipe? well? well NO! So I am going to work on this recipe myself until I get it right. No one is going to stop me from learning the tricks to making this juice which can be substituted for lemon juice and a perfect mouneh item. All I know for a fact is that the berries are soaked in water, the water is strained and put through a sieve lined with a cheesecloth. My question is - Is the same water used to soak another batch of berries to make the liquid more concentrated ? humm.... I will get through this recipe even if it kills me, when one does not share, he does not become eternal... I could have written a huge article about these women, but I certainly won't! I will have to figure it out myself. Do you have any ideas about this? Send me your comments. :)


Anonymous said...

waow! And where is the picture of the berry from which is extracted summac?
Fascinating! I always wondered from where it came!
Loved this article.

tasteofbeirut said...

I still think you should write about these Armenian women! baseeta!

Barbara Abdeni Massaad said...

Maybe not these women, but I know other Armenian women who have a whole section on them... thanks to their help, friendship, and good good food.

Arlette said...

Hello there
I just found your blog, and being a Lebanese living in Northern Ontario, was surprised to find lots and lots of Sumac Trees here, it doesnt taste the same like our, maybe because of all the snow and water their hold during the winter season... My biggest surprise that my husband's grandmother used to make a caughing syrup from the sumac. She died before I got the chance to meet her.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)