Sujuk – from Armenia to Lebanon and to the land down under

OK. This is not here just to save face value. I have neglected you. I’m sorry. But hey, I’m back now. Let’s just move on.

I was showing a colleague some blog pix back in December and her comment was: How do you expect people to follow your blog if you haven’t updated in a week… Truth of the matter is, I don’t really expect people to follow my blog. The fact that I have a few visitors each month is taking me continuously by surprise. A recent comment on my blog was chasing me up for a task I had set myself in the first ever post. I obviously have not done any entries on Lebanese breakfasts. But, after a visit to Emma’s on Liberty, I had the chance to get reacquainted with an old favourite: Sujuk. Before I get stuck in, I want to make it clear, this is not a post for the sake of posting. This is the real deal, a full subject matter, so let’s dig in.


Red Sujuk Stockings, probably great for Christmas, with black Sujuk in the background

Lebanon has a fantastic Armenian community who have enriched our cuisine and with whom we have co-contributed to much cross-cultural osmosis. Our fellow Armenians have had a presence in Lebanon for centuries, but the major influx was during the Ottoman empire’s Armenian genocide in 1915 – a very sad event.

But Armenians are a strong and positive people, and they persevered well, and integrated into the Lebanese society where they now have representatives in the parliament. An area of major concentration is Bourj Hammoud, and there you will find some of the best sujuk ever.


All cut up and frying, with no oil.

So sujuk, it turns out, is a semi-dry, spicy sausage that crosses cultural boundaries. It can be found in more or less similar form in Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Armenia. The version familiar to me is the latter, and after the visit to Emma’s, I wanted more. Emma’s version of this Armenian specialty is pure authenticity. What left me hanging is the mean, upsettingly small portion.


My recipe based on a traditional version with plenty of onions and fresh tomatoes, made smokey by the sujuk slices

Normally, I would seek sausages out at the butcher’s. This particular one however, has an alcoholic ingredient (red wine or arak) which means none of the Lebanese butchers I know would make it, alcohol being a forbidden ingredient by Islam. So, determined to make my own, I looked around the net for resources and found several. So I took the best bits of all the recipes, and came up with my own. It turns out there are two types of sujuk – red and black. Red sujuk contains red wine and has paprika as a main ingredient, which gives it its color. Black sujuk depends on pepper for spice, with the aniseed hit coming from Arak (the macho Lebanese cousin of ouzo or pastis). Beware, you will be stuffing the meat in freshly bought single legged ladies stockings. So here is how you make it:

Red Sujuk
1 Kilo fatty beef mince (or half beef, half lamb)
1/4 cup finely minced garlic
2 tsp salt
2 Heaped Tablespoons Sweet Paprika
2 Heaped Tablespoons Smokey Paprika
1 Heaped Tablespoon Fenugreek spice
1 Heaped Tablespoon Cumin
1 Heaped Tablespoon Black Pepper, the fine powder type, not the fresh cracked.
1/2 cup of Red Wine, nothing too expensive

Black Sujuk
1 Kilo fatty beef mince (or half beef, half lamb)
1/4 cup finely minced garlic
2 tsp salt
1 hpd tbsp white pepper
1 hpd tbsp black pepper
1 hpd tbsp cinnamon
1 hpd tbsp cumin
1 hpd tbsp allspice
1/2 cup arak

  1. Mince all ingredients together for your chosen color in a mincer (or in a food processer).
  2. Stuff meat nicely in clean stockings and make sure the meat is nice and uniform.
  3. Hang meat for 3 to 5 days at room temperature, less if hot, more if cold.

So, of course, after a week, I had to get everyone over for a sujuk festival.


Stuffed soujouk foccaccia, pre-oven

To cook the sujuk, you need only slice it and fry it dry in a frying pan. The amount of fat within is sufficient to fry it nicely.

For the foccaccia, I used a basic recipe with mozzarella, parmesan, semi-dried tomatoes and sujuk.

The following are questions I had in my mind
1- Is this safe? Should I be hanging meat in the garage? A – Yeah, come on!
2- Will it rot? A – You won’t know unless you try. My batch didn’t rot
3- Will it dry up? A – Yep, slightly, and it becomes harder on the outside, which makes it easy to slice
4- Will it drip as it hangs? A – No
5- How do I know if it has gone bad? A – Evidently, it will smell bad, but the alcohol and salt should preserve it well.


The stuffed foccaccia as an end result.

So, what do I think? Fantastic result, and everyone loved it. None was left over, so that’s cool… I had to buy a few books about sausage making as a result, but that’s another post for another time.

*References
http://lpoli.50webs.com/Sausage%20recipes.htm#DRY
http://www.georgefamily.net/cookbook/16Soujouk.html

9 Responses to “Sujuk – from Armenia to Lebanon and to the land down under”

  1. ---trish--- says:

    Hey Fouad

    That sounds great, I am so glad you went to Emma’s and by the sounds of it, you liked it.

    The Soujouk at first seemed really difficult to make, but after reading your post, it was not as daunting as I thought. I love that you hand them from stocking :P

    So glad you posted again, I know you have a lot more to share with all of your followers : )

  2. SydneyCider says:

    Thanks Trish. They really turned out great. The stockings are an easy alternative to natural casings, which are a bit of a hassle and need a sausage machine. Also, thanks for the encouragement.
    F

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great to year you’re back in the seat. Looks like you haven’t skipped a meat (beat)!
    Vincent Shaw.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Did you wash the stockings before you put meat in them? Just because you just bought them, doesn’t mean they’re clean…

  5. SydneyCider says:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I would be afraid that water might spoil the meat, so soaking them in the alcohol of choice would probably be better than soaking them.

  6. tasteofbeirut says:

    I have a friend who told me she made sujuk with the tenderloin. Which cut of meat did you use? I am curious to try it now!

  7. bathmate says:

    Excellent posting…I appreciate this blog….

    Bathmate

  8. The Mom Chef says:

    Bravo on many levels. My family is Armenian and my father was the president of Haigazian University in Beirut for many years back in the 70′s. We loved Lebanon. My mother used to make the Black Sujuk and I’m sure many neighbors were wondering what was in the stuffed stockings hanging off the trees in our back yard. Thank you for acknowledging the Armenians, what they went through and the wonderful relationship they’ve had with Lebanon.
    The Mom Chef´s last [type] ..Maiale in Agrodolce and Broccoli Strascinati from Saveur Magazine- April 2010

  9. Angel says:

    Hi,
    I made this and since my apartment is VERY humid there were mould on the casing..(not the white looking mould that you see on dried sausages but rather greenish). Anyway, I took it out and it looked ok, smelled ok and tasted ok, but I am still worried that it could be dangerous as itùs fermented raw meat?? What do you think?
    Thanks

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