Saturday, 22 August 2009

Desperately Seeking Yufka

It always starts off as something simple.
A few of years ago I found an interesting pastry in the supermarket inside Footscray’s little Saigon. Its handmade in a filo style called Emek Yufka. Its a little thicker than commercial filo, round and just ever so slightly cooked. Over the last few years we have grown to love the versatile and tasty pastries that can be made with it. At the moment we are making kohlrabi, leek and parsnip strudel. Its the kind of pastry that you would love to be able to make but I lack the experience and skill or even courage to try to make it. Then three weeks ago the supermarket announced that due to the end of lease it was closing and our beloved Emek Yufka proved to be an elusive little number to find elsewhere.
Yufka, now the word itself started to stir a few questions. Forgive me if I go a bit Woodstock [40 years] but you really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s unavailable.
You may know Yufka, but to me this was starting to become a serious quest. A little digging around showed it to be one of many traditional Turkish pastries. It is available from quite a few other sources but Emek Yufka was something special. It cooked up better than any of the others so the hunt was on. Then luckily on Thursday I saw that the deli manager of the supermarket that is closing had moved to the small Polish/Baltic deli near the Hopkins St entrance of the market and she kindly ordered it for me and now after two weeks of withdrawal symptoms we and you can now get Emek again. This virtual quest took me to tribal villages with earth ovens, street food in Istanbul and to then Bas Foods at 423 Victoria St Brunswick.
This is a Turkishish Mediterranean Wholesalers with hookahs and teapots, loads of extraordinary teas, spices even fresh sweetbreads and even Gullac, this being the mythical dessert served at the circumcision of Suleiman the Magnificent.
I love the store but Bas Foods Yufka just doesn't compare to Emek for me.
They do sell the flour and the rolling pins to make it so now the challenge is on. The lady on the phone told me Emek Yufka is hand made by 70 year old ladies who start really early each morning but I have not had time to go to to the factory yet
[20 Waratah Street Campbelfield Melbourne tel 93592006]
In the meantime to see how Yufka is made in the traditional way click on these links they are amazing.
This one is the best when you have no rolling pin

For a bit of the history and an extraordinary food blog called The Culinary Anthropologist click here
I will post on Gullac soon.


Thermomixer said...

Thanks again George for the info on Yufka.

I remember Janni K making his own filo. He did it at a class at the old Vital in Clarendon St. They used to serve an amuse bouche with homemade filo at MG.

He used it to make his wild weed pie too. Maybe we could get you to do a class on Turkish/Middle Eastern breads and pastries.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

I think a field trip to the source could be more fun.

Thermomixer said...

Is that Campbellfield or the Middle East ?

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...


morgana said...

This can be found in one of the greek delis at Preston Market. Cheers.

Jeremy said...

I just was in Stamboul, what a food adventure, if you want we should meet there sometime?
Would love to find out how you do the strudel? I make kofte meat and roll them like cigars in yufka, served with yogurt dill sauce and a mix of Chili sauce with rose petal jam, fabulous appetizer!

Cheers George!

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Hi Jeremy

Will try to get there next May June? only get a couple of weeks r and r these days. Are you up for a house swap to NY? We have a small appt in the city so we can do it while we are here to get to meet you?

Jeremy said...

I would love to swap my tiny hovel of an apartment forever!!!
If you come up this way or if you go to Istanbul, you ought to meet my friend Dilara at Abracadabra in Arnavutkoy! She is a gas, a virtual culinary bruja, she knows everyone!
If your in NY, would love to meet, that is for sure!