Posted by: acooksca | 05/13/2011

Turkish Crackers with Fresh Anchovies and Tarator Sauce

Turkish Crackers with Anchovies and Tarator Sauce

Turkish Crackers with Fresh Anchovies and Tarator Sauce

From the Turkish-global cuisine kitchen at Mikla Restaurant in Istanbul comes delicate house made crackers topped with fresh anchovies. The crackers are crisp and tender with the slight tang of buttermilk. This dough is easy to prepare, just make it at least 4 hours in advance and keep it cold to make rolling and cutting easier. These crackers can be cut into different shapes or baked as a sheet and broken into irregular sizes. This recipe makes a lot so use the rest as snacks or top with other treats.

Fresh anchovies are mild in flavor. The tiny filets must be removed from the spine and head and all bones discarded. In better fish markets and gourmet shops you can buy refrigerated fresh white anchovy fillets in light oil. These are ready to eat and a fine choice. The salt brined and aged canned anchovies used in cooking are not what we are looking for here as they are too strong for the delicate cracker.

At Mikla a lemony aioli is served along side the anchovies. You could also use Tarator, a tahini based sauce found through out the Mid-east. The paprika in our version is not traditional, but a Turkish touch. See recipe below. Tarator is fairly mild and is often used as a dip for raw vegetables or to accompany spicy grilled lamb meatballs called Kofte.

Recipe makes about 1 pound of crackers

1 ½ c. all purpose flour plus ¾ cup for rolling
½ cup fine ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold butter in ½- inch cubes
¾ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons each sesame seeds and poppy seeds

Place the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt and butter in the work bowl of either a mixer or a food processor. Mix until the butter is the size of peas. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until just combined and a rough dough forms. Dough will be sticky. Do not over mix or the dough will be tough. Remove from the bowl and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350, with a rack in the center. Have a parchment covered sheet pan ready. Cut the chilled dough into 4 pieces. Remove one piece at a time to roll and keep others refrigerated. On a well floured surface roll the dough, loosening and flouring often so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll a rectangle as thin as you can, ideally about 10 inches by 14 inches. Gently lift the dough with the rolling pin and place it on the parchment covered pan.

Prick the dough all over with a fork. Using a sharp thin knife, cut the dough into 1-inch by 3-inch rectangular pieces, leaving the odd shaped pieces along the edges (re-rolling will make the dough tough, so leave these free-formed bits). Lightly brush dough with water, sprinkle with ¼ of the seeds and a little salt. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake about 8-10 minutes more, or until crackers are a golden brown. Remove and allow to cool. Crackers firm and crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Tarator Sauce

½ cup well stirred tahini (sesame paste)
¼ cup warm water
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small garlic clove
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp sweet paprika

Puree all ingredients into a smooth, thin sauce.


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