In this episode of my food-focused podcast Hungry for Words, I chatted with Robyn Eckhardt. She’s a widely published food writer whose works has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Saveur and many other publications.
While living and working in Asia, she and her husband, photographer David Hagerman, were looking for a sunny, yet inexpensive place to go on vacation. They knew little about the country before their first visit. After just a couple weeks, they fell in love with the food, the people and the country itself.
They returned to Turkey as often as they could. Finally, they ditched their day jobs and headed there to write a book about it. They spent 16 months traveling to every corner of the country by car. They tasted and researched the cuisine as they went, even venturing the edge of two war zones.
The result is their fabulously insightful book, Instanbul & Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
In this podcast episode, we discussed how many people dismiss Turkish food as simply a lot of kebabs. In this fascinating conversation, we explored the remarkable diversity of the country’s cuisine and how the geography dramatically affects it. We also chatted about her time covering street food in Asia for The Wall Street Journal, a fascinating assignment.
For every podcast episode, I make food from the author’s book. I was intrigued by dozens of recipes, but I am a deep lover of any kind of chicken wings. So, I selected her take on the famous wings sold at Instanbul’s famed spice bazaar, Tahtakale Market.
She notes the wings are generally accompanied by a few traditional sides: grilled green chilies, sliced onions and tomatoes along with a bulgur pilaf and dimpled flat breads. The wings are first tenderized in a bath of vinegar and onion, then coated in a seasoned olive oil. What kicks them up a notch is an herb-chile salt, served on the side. It’s a great recipe that I’ve made again and again.
Tahtakale Market Wings
- Baking sheet
- 16 chicken wings about 2 lbs./1 kg
- 1 onion
- 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ¼ teaspoons Turkish Aleppo pepper
- or dried red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Spicy Herb Salt
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme or oregano
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher or other coarse salt
- Grate the onion or pulse in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine with the vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Add the wings and toss to coat. Cover the bowl and marinate overnight or for at least four hours, jostling the wings from time to time. To save space in your fridge, you can transfer to a well-sealed plastic bag.
- Combine the olive oil, chili flakes, cumin, thyme or oregano and sea salt in a large bowl. Remove the wings from the tenderizing marinade, pat dry with paper towels and add to the bowl. Stir or toss with tongs until the wings are coated with the new marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to four hours.
Spicy herb salt
- In a small bowl, mix the red pepper and the thyme or oregano. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
Cook the wings
- Cook the wings
- Preheat the oven to 450*F/TKC. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a oiled cooling rack, or line a broiler pan with foil. Remove the wings from the marinade and roast for about 10 minutes. Using tongs, turn and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes until well browned and cook through. Serve hot with the chile-herb salt.