Making of Pastırma
Cattle, mainly from the eastern province of Kars, are brought to Kayseri, where they are slaughtered and the meat made into “pastırma” at factories found on the northwest of the city. The different cuts of meat produce different types of “pastırma.” There are 19 to 26 varieties depending on the size of the animal. Extra fine qualities are those made from tenderloin and loin; fine qualities are made from cuts like the shank, leg, tranche and shoulder; and low quality from the leg, brisket, flank, neck and similar cuts. The many tons of “pastırma” produced in Kayseri are almost all sold for domestic consumption all over Turkey.
The ideal season for making “pastırma” is autumn. The season starts by mid-September and continues until the end of autumn. This weather presents the qualities such as; sunny and clear skies, low humidity and mild wind that are ideal conditions for drying and maturing. The “pastırma” making process consists of 5 stages that are; procurement of the animals, preparation of the meat, processing of meat, coating and packaging.
The making of “pastırma” lasts for about a month. The freshly slaughtered meat rests at room temperature for 4-8 hours before being cut into pieces suitable for making “pastırma.” The meat are slashed and salted on one side, stacked, and left for 24 hours to rest. The same process is done to the other side. After the second 24 hour period, meat slabs are rinsed with plenty of water to remove the excess salt, and left to dry outdoors for a period varying between 3 to 10 days, depending on the weather. After some further processing, the meat is hung up to dry again, this time in the shade and spaced out so that they do not touch one another. After 3 to 6 days, they are covered with a paste known as “çemen” paste. “Çemen” is composed of fenugreek seed flour, garlic and powdered red chilli pepper and water to form a paste. This paste covering the slabs of “pastırma” plays an important role in the flavour, and protects the meat from drying and spoiling by cutting its contact with air. The excess “çemen” is removed, leaving a thin layer, and left to dry again. Finally “pastırma” is ready for consumption.
When buying “pastırma”, make sure that it has a bright red hue, and cut very thinly with a cleaver. “Pastırma” can be consumed freshly on its own, or cooked with eggs, tomatoes, inside the white bean stew or “börek” (the savoury pastry). In the Anatolian region of Turkey it is also added to bulghur rice pilaf and sometimes in stuffed grape leaves.
In conclusion “pastırma” is an important culinary legacy from the Turkish forefathers and a delicious delicacy that adds a depth of flavor to any type of food it’s combined with.
“Her Yönüyle Pastırma”, Prof. Dr. O. Cenap Tekinşen, Doç Dr. Yusuf Doğruer, Selçuk Üniversitesi Basımevi, Konya 2000
Mustafa Çetinkaya / Skylife Magazine