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Raki and Food Harmony


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Rakı gastronomy is based on the harmony between the flavour of the food and the rakı. However, the most important thing to remember is to savour the rakı slowly, and in good company. Considering the effort and patience that goe into every single drop of rakı, the ideal setting is a warm, pleasant conversation. This means that along with the delicious food you serve your guests, you offer another congenial accompaniment to every bite.

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Raki and Food Harmony

  1. 1. Funda Inansal harmony between rakı and food 04
  2. 2. Funda Güzelmeriç Inansal Funda Güzelmeriç Inansal founded her own business with the advertising sector experience she gained in Ajans Ultra during her university years in 1990. Her company was active in glass production and export for 10 years in Turkey. Simultaneously she marketed her products internationally with her important partner active in foreign trade in Hong Kong. She took place in the founding period of Konya Cam as founding shareholder. In addition to her other business activities, in 1995 she entered the food & beverage sector and she took the first steps by franchising international restaurant chains in this area which she was interested in. She opened the restaurants such as Chez Bouvier, Santa Lucia and Belgo in Turkey. She has had his expertise in food and beverage sector by the trainings she got abroad and she has been still transferring her expertise to the sector with her consultancy firm, Dude Table which is very different from traditional consultancy firms by creating its own creative gastronomy projects such as Restaurant Week for the companies as a solution partner. She has been aiming to take Turkish cuisine to higher levels on the international platform by her “LocalisBeautiful” project. Funda Güzelmeriç Inansal, who has been taking part in a lot of social responsibility projects in education and creative thinking, is one of the founders of Creative Children Association and board of trustees member of Cappadocia Vocational School of Higher Education.
  3. 3. 01 Basic rules Naturally, rakı gastronomy is based on the harmony between the flavour of the food and the rakı. How- ever, the most important thing to remember is to savour the rakı slowly, and in good company. Consid- ering the effort and patience that goe into every single drop of rakı, the ideal setting is a warm, pleasant conversation. This means that along with the delicious food you serve your guests, you offer another congenial accompaniment to every bite. The matter of matching flavours to rakı may be approached in one of two ways: “Matching Tastes,” and “Opposites Attract.” An example of the ‘matching tastes’ approach is Fennel in Olive Oil. Ceviche, on the other hand, achieves the perfect harmony with rakı through contrast. There are three important factors affecting the harmony between rakı and food, although cooking tech- nique is also of importance. Alcohol content Oil (in the anise seed) Aromas from the grapes and anise It would not be right to examine the effects of these three factors seperately. Only by assessing how these three factors affect this harmony together, can you strike the perfect balance.
  4. 4. 1) Aroma The factors affecting aroma depend on the quality of the suma from which the rakı is produced. Suma is made from grapes and/or raisins, and the combination affects the aroma. If only raisins are used, a fuller, more complex aroma is achieved. If only or mainly fresh grapes are used, fresh and fruity aromas predominate. ‘Opposites attract’ is an effective approach to food harmony. For example, the sweetness of the suma in rakı complements the contrasting bitter flavours. The level of anise is another factor affecting aroma. The higher the anise content is, the sweeter the flavour becomes. We can use both the ‘matching tastes’ and ‘opposites attract’ methods. For example, the harmony between fruits and Tekirdağ Gold, which is very sweet due to its high anise level, is a ‘com- plementary tastes’ combination. Smoked fish roe would be a good example of the ‘opposites attract’ method. 2) Oil The oiliness of rakı is due to its anise content. The high anise oil content causes a fine film to form in the mouth when you drink rakı. To harmonize with rakı, complex flavours of equal strength are needed. 3) Alcohol content The alcohol content of rakı is due to the suma. Rakı’s high alcohol content makes the ratio of water mixed with it important. The amount of alcohol is the determining factor in rakı’s body. Consequently, the higher the alcohol content of the rakı, the more complex the flavours that can be served with it. 02
  5. 5. 03 Cooking technique and harmony Cooking methods have a significant effect on the harmony between food and rakı. Even though the ingredients may be the same, dishes prepared with different cooking techniques harmonize differently with different types of rakı. Frying is more suited to Yeni Rakı (‘New Rakı’), which is felt in the throat due to its alcohol-anise balance and alcohol content. Grilled dishes harmonise better with Tekirdağ Gold and Âlâ, unless strong spices are used, and the meal incluldes fatty, spicy food on the side. For baked food, the harmony between seared and roasted meats with Tekirdağ Gold or Âlâ is excellent. Oven-baked fish harmonises better with Tekirdağ Gold. While food baked in a casserole generally harmonises well with Yeni Rakı, the ingredients used are an important factor.
  6. 6. 04 Not only cooking techniques, but preservation methods as well, are important in creating harmonies. For example, pickled fruit and vegetables, fish stored in brine and smoked fish harmonise with rakı according to the ‘opposites attract’ principle. Molecular harmony Meals prepared using the ‘matching’ method with ingredients having similar molecular structures to that of anise are the meals most compatible with rakı. For example; the components in the molecular structure of the Apiaceae (parsley family), Asteraceae (daisy family) and Lamiaceae (mint family) are similar to those in anise, itself a member of the Apiaceae. Thus, dishes containing fennel, coriander and dill, also in the Apiaceae, as well as chives, tarragon (Asteraceae), basil and mint (Lamiaceae), are some examples of foods that strike a good harmony with rakı through the ‘matching flavours’ approach. Cardamom, red chilli pepper, cinnamon, garlic and onion are some other examples of aromatics with complementary tastes. The main fruits and vegetables compatible with rakı in terms of molecular structure include fennel, celery, apples, beetroot, carrots, citrus fruits, , coconuts, blueberries, figs, peaches and pomegranates. Personal preferences are of course very important. A flavour thought to beverycompatibletoonepersonmaynotseemsocompatibletoanothe.
  7. 7. BASIC HARMONY MAP Five groups of basic harmony characteristics also guide rakı gastronomy: • Red meat, offal, game, deli meats • White meat (chicken, turkey) • Seafood • Dairy products • Legumes • Fruit and vegetables 05
  8. 8. Lamb Lamb, especially chops, etc., must be consumed immediately after cooking with its fat on. However conversation, and enjoying food and rakı slowly is the most important part of drinking ritual. When the fat congeals, this may cause the meat to lose its flavour, adversely affecting its harmony with the rakı. Smoked lamb in the form of cold cuts would be an ideal starter meze for rakı. If the lamb is to be served warm, it should be chopped into small cubes and grilled on short skewers. It is recommended that this dish is served as a ‘hot starter,’ served after a cold meze in rakı gastronomy. All the ingredients used in marinades and cooking are factors that increase or decrease the harmony. Creative chefs can turn the most incompatible ingredients into a perfectly-flavoured dish to go with rakı. Lamb kokoreç (grilled intestines) has a special flavour. When cooked with chilli and spices, it is compatible with rakı as a ‘hot starter’. Lamb liver can be served either as a hot starter or as a cold meze. Lightly floured lamb pieces can be sautéed in a pan and alongside a bean salad with parsley and onions. Thin slices of liver can be left to absorb their own juices in the pan, and served as hot starters with caramelised onions on the side. 06
  9. 9. Lamb sweetbreads can be sautéed and seasoned with red pepper flakes, oregano, etc. as a hot starter. Lamb neck is simmered with fragrant vegetables (bouquet garni), deboned and moulded, and then cooled. It can be served in thin slices as a cold meze. After the neck is simmered and cut, it may be mixed with lamb’s brains and chilled. This can also be served as a special rakı meze. 07
  10. 10. Lamb’s brains are a traditional rakı meze. They are boiled and seasoned with salt and pepper. They can also be served with toasted bread on the side. Lamb’s tongue can be served chilled and sliced as a cold meze. Smoked tongue is another delicious cold meze for rakı. Minced lamb adds flavour to patties, but these are never made from 100% lamb. Meatballs on skewers as hot starters or grilled patties as the main course are compatible with rakı. Lamb shank is boiled. Cold cuts are also served as a cold meze on brown bread. 08
  11. 11. 09 Veal Although veal has a low fat content, due to its fat veining it loses its flavour when it gets cold as rakı is drunk slowly. Medium-rare tenderloins, however, will make a fine accompaniment to rakı because they stay moist. When marinated and roasted in the oven, tenderloins stay moist, and the aromatics used in the marinade add flavour to the overall taste. On the other hand, when fried, they can be sliced into strips and served as hot starters to be eaten immediately rather than as a main course. Braised veal can also be eaten cold and is therefore compatible with rakı. Sautéed fennel or wild leeks alongside a rib steak as the main course help achieve more harmony. Boiled veal cheeks are perfect served cold as a meze or as a main course. Rounds of beef can be boiled and served cold in slices, but are also a good accompaniment for rakı in small portions as cold meze. Roast veal complements rakı well as a cold starter due to its preparation method and the spices used.
  12. 12. Veal’s tongue can be served sliced as a cold meze. Smoked tongue is also a delicious cold meze with rakı. Veal patties can be served as warm starters or as the main course, but it is recommended that they contain a certain amount of fatty lamb meat. 10
  13. 13. Game Roasted or smoked duck breast is compatible with rakı as a cold meze. Baked or sun-dried goose breast can be thinly sliced and served as a meze. Duck liver and foie gras are also starters compatible with rakı. Roasted quail goes well with rakı. Boiled and sliced quail’s eggs served with garlic yoghurt harmonise with rakı. Roasted deer tenderloins go well with rakı. 11
  14. 14. Deli meats Smoked and cured meats are served cold and harmonise with rakı with their contrasting strong flavours. Cured meat and pickled gherkins are a perfect fit. Thinly sliced smoked roast beef can be served as a cold meze or as a starter combined with a mayonnaise-based sauce, bread and thinly sliced chives. Pan-fried sujuk made from various kinds of meat and rakı-compatible spices can be served as a hot starter. Alternatively, cold sujuk varieties are also compatible with rakı. Pastrami is one of the classic rakı mezes when served cold. To serve pastrami hot, it can be pan-fried or cooked using the En Papillotte method. Veal bacon can be served cold or crispy and hot. Smoked tongue is one of the cold deli meats most compatible with rakı. Thinly sliced lamb salami goes well with rakı as a meze. 12
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  16. 16. Dishes and mezes prepared with chicken do not play a major role in rakı gastronomy. Despite that, there many compatible chicken dishes from around the world made with a variety of cooking methods and ingredients. HARMONY BETWEEN RAKI AND WHITE MEAT 14
  17. 17. Chicken and turkey breast cold cuts Thinly sliced chicken breast may be served with spicy olive oil and a walnut sauce. The classic meze known as ‘Circassian chicken’ is prepared with similar ingredients. Smoked chicken/turkey breast This can be served in thin slices as an appetiser or as a starter meze. Grilled chicken Since the hot spices used in the marinade increase the harmony, chicken wings and chicken chops can be served as a main course accompanying rakı. Roast chicken Either cold or warm sliced roast chicken or turkey can accompany rakı. Chicken liver and chicken hearts Sautéed chicken liver and hearts are served as a ‘hot starter’ dish in rakı gastronomy. 15
  18. 18. HARMONY BETWEEN RAKI AND SEAFOOD The harmony between rakı and fish is one of the most important topics in rakı gastronomy. In terms of harmony with rakı, cooking techniques are as important as the white/red meat distinction. 16
  19. 19. Pan-fried thin fillets of fish or fish sautéed in butter can also accompany rakı as a main course. Small fish can be grilled and served as a hot appetiser in small portions. White fish is compatible when breaded and fried. The harmony is also increased when the fish is boiled and served cold with olive oil and fresh herbs. Salted fish and smoked fish also go well with rakı as cold mezes. Fish carpaccio is served as a cold meze. Ceviche is a compatible contrast (opposites attract), and can be served as a cold meze or a starter. Smoked fish roe is served with butter and toast on the side. Anchovy pâté is a good contrasting appetiser. Shrimp is compatible as a cold starter or meze. Baked shellfish (oysters, sand mussels, scallops, etc.) harmonise with rakı as hot starters, and oysters can also be served cold with rakı. Boiled saltwater or freshwater crayfish go well with rakı when chilled. 17
  20. 20. HARMONY BETWEEN RAKI AND DAIRY PRODUCTS Cheese Cheese is considered to be the most important element in rakı gastronomy. In the drinking ritual, the fresh, full-fat, semi-hard ‘Ezine cheese,’ made from a mixture of cow’s and sheep’s milk, is compatible with rakı, and this pairing is considered inseparable. Cheese served with or as a dessert is a good accompaniment to Yeni Rakı Âlâ or Yeni Rakı. Milk This is used in mezes and dishes made with a white sauce, as well as desserts made from milk and eaten last at the rakı table. Traditional dairy-based desserts such as rice pudding are served in small portions. If the texture and aroma are suitable, spices such as cinnamon or star anise enhance the harmony. Crème caramel and crème brûlée prepared with milk and cream, and especially versions including chopped fruit, go well with rakı. 18
  21. 21. Yoghurt Yoghurt and mezes prepared with yoghurt coat the stomach, easing the effects of the alcohol and are excellent with rakı. Cacık (tzatziki) made from yoghurt and finely chopped cucumbers and water is an indispensable part of rakı gastronomy. 19
  22. 22. You can prepare mezes for rakı by mixing blanched vegetables such as carrots, celery root, spinach, fresh herbs, etc. with yoghurt and light mayonnaise. For the yoghurt meze called ‘Haydari,’ another indispensable item of the traditional rakı table, the yoghurt is strained and mixed with garlic, dried mint and dill. You can fry your favourite vegetables and serve them hot or cold with yoghurt (with or without yogurt) and tomato sauce. Raw vegetables with a dipping sauce of fresh herbs can also be used to prepare very harmonious aperitif dishes. Cream This is added as a stabiliser in some desserts served with rakı. Especially in the case of desserts made from fruit, its creamy texture adds flavour and supports the harmony with rakı. It can also be added to cheese dip sauces prepared for use in appetisers. 20
  23. 23. Vegetable mezes are an integral part of rakı gastronomy, fresh spices and herbs are important in making vegetable mezes more compatible with rakı. HARMONY BETWEEN RAKI AND FRUIT AND VEGETABLES 21
  24. 24. 22 Vegetables cooked in olive oil Cold mezes of vegetables cooked with olive oil, such as beans, leeks, red beans, celery, aubergines, courgettes, artichokes, broad beans are not only excellent accompaniments to rakı, but the oil lines the stomach and slows the effects of the rakı. Stuffed vegetables in olive oil are wonderful rakı mezes. These include peppers, vine leaves or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, herbs and currants, and cooked with olive oil. Grilled vegetables with olive oil or an aromatic garlic sauce are also served as mezes. The most suitable vegetables for this are aubergines, red capia peppers, bell peppers and tomatoes. Onions and whole garlic cloves can be served as a garnish with baked dishes since they go well with rakı.
  25. 25. Aubergine salad made from grilled aubergines in particular is one of the classic meze dishes. A warm version made with the addition of tomatoes and grilled peppers is called ‘söğürme.’. It can be served with rakı as a garnish for main courses of grilled aubergines mixed with white sauce. Due to its pleasant velvety texture, it is sometimes called ‘aubergine caviar.’ 23
  26. 26. Sautéed fresh herbs Fresh seasonal herbs from different regions can be sautéed (onions and garlic) or served with garlic yoghurt as a rakı meze. These include chicory, nettles, mallow, sorrel and others. Pickles are made from different vegetables and by different methods depending on the country. In some countries, some fruits are even pickled. Pickles are considered a good accompaniment for rakı. Cucumbers, cabbage and peppers are the most common ingredients, and can be served when rakı is drunk as an aperitif before a meal. Raw vegetables can be served, especially with dipping sauces, as crudités when rakı is drunk as an aperitif, for example, cucumbers, celery sticks, carrots, courgettes, and chicory. Cheese and yoghurt sauces go well with rakı. Purslane mixed with garlic-infused yoghurt can be served raw or blanched as a cold starter. A similarly prepared yoghurt sauce can be served with vegetables like celeriac and carrots to go with rakı. Salads, tomatoes and cucumbers with an olive oil dressing are an indispensable part of the rakı table. A salad made from cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes and onions and served with an olive oil and lemon dressing is called a ‘shepherd’s salad.’ This kind of salad is especially popular on rakı tables. In some countries, feta cheese is also added to these salads. Salads made with grilled vegetables, arugula and tomatoes also go well with rakı. 24
  27. 27. Classics like Niçoise and Caesar salads go well with rakı in terms of the ingredients and sauces used. The absence of vinegar in salads made with cold smoked meats and fish facilitate their pairing with rakı. Recently, vegetable sprouts and ‘micro herbs’ used in cooking have also been served with suitable sauces. 25
  28. 28. Rakı and melon Melon is the most important fruit in rakı gastronomy. Typically served along with feta cheese, it is an old friend of the traditional rakı table. It forms a perfect harmony with rakı. A piece of cheese and a small slice of melon are an ideal way to set off the taste and aroma of rakı. HARMONY BETWEEN RAKI AND FRUIT 26
  29. 29. Fruit is the best accompaniment for rakı, especially if it is drunk as an aperitif or at a bar. The fruits most preferred are, depending on the season, melons, apples, quinces, pomegranates, green plums and figs. Other fruits may also be served depending on the country. Desserts prepared with glazed fruit can be served with cream on the side or with fresh cheese, which is easy on the stomach. Quinces in thick syrup dressed with cream and oven-baked pumpkin in syrup are two examples. Desserts from other countries such as poached pears also go well with rakı. Sauces prepared with ingredients such as honey not cooked with the fruit, and desserts served with walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, as well as frozen yoghurt, are compatible with rakı. Desserts can also be served in a variety of ways. For example, smoked pineapple slices served with Roquefort cheese and caramelised walnuts can accompany rakı. Cheese and dry or fresh figs with pomegranate sauce also go well with rakı. A parfait made with frozen fruit to finish the meal is a perfect accompaniment to rakı at the end of the night. Desserts featuring either dried or fresh fruit such as figs and apricots with a side of cheese or cream also go well with rakı. 27
  30. 30. Legumes are frequently used as meze or salad ingredients in rakı gastronomy. HARMONY BETWEEN RAKI AND LEGUMES 28
  31. 31. Mashed broad beans are served with olive oil and dill dressing. ‘Piyaz’ salad made from white beans can be served with meatballs and rakı. Cold mezes made from bulgur and fresh herbs and spices can be served with a squeeze of lemon and olive oil dressing. Black-eyed beans can be boiled and served with spring onions and an olive oil dressing as a delicious cold meze together with rakı. Hummus, made from chickpeas and tahini, has a place in many cuisines. Lentil patties made from boiled red lentils, spring onions and fresh aromatics go well with rakı. A boiled green lentil salad is another good cole meze for rakı. 29