Kokoreç – a delicacy

As an offal enthusiast, I am embarrassed that I have not written any word on one of my favorite offal meals. Kokoreç!

Kokoreç is basically lamb intestines, wrapped around sweetbreads on skewer and grilled horizontally over the charcoal fire. But not easy as is. Preparation is harsh, when you think of all the intestines, which needs to be cleaned thoroughly!

My first kokoreç was chopped intestines sauteed with spring onions. It was a dish prepared Thessalonian style, where my mom’s roots are from. The women of the house used to clean the intestines those days, not the butchers. Patience and mastership was needed for this laborious process.  Cleaned under the cold running water, by turning the intestines gently inside out with the help of a medium thick knitting needle, hours we are talking here.

In Istanbul you may find kokoreç being prepared on the small eateries, but the real kokoreç is prepared on wheeled carts.  That thick skewer is being grilled slowly on charcoal fire, ready to be cut and chopped coarsely, grilled more while you watch the fat melts and the bubbling sounds fill your ear and the smell makes you crazy. Then some salt, oregano is sprinkled on top and, I like it best with some cumin and spicy chili flakes. Followed by filling in the bread that has been heating up on the skewer,then wrapped in paper and… you eat!

It has been the most enjoyed street food of many offal lovers for years and years. Everyone has a kokoreç usta, knows his coordinates and whereabouts his timing and so on. Most of them even given their cell phones to their fans, hence it makes it easier for us to find them in Istanbul.

Those white aproned heros are our saviours after along nite out, after a long day at work, or just for indefinable pleasure of eating kokoreç grilled on charcoal.

As I would say, well most of us who can not resist the cruchy, chewy, delightful meaty taste, would say the same after the first bite:

Usta, bana bir çeyrek daha! -Usta, Another quarter bread for me!-