A disappointing dish

image

An avid watcher of Masterchef, Id heard of sumac but assumed it to be some sort of spice blend.  I was wrong; apparently sumac is a single spice, derived from any one of 30+ species of the rhus genus or Anacardiaceae family. (I’m not a lot wiser but here’s a picture of one of them).

Daughter bought me a copy of one of my favourite magazines, Delicious, and in it I found a recipe for Chicken Musakhan, a dish which originates from Palestine.  I had all the ingredients to hand except for sumac. It wasn’t difficult to find (Tesco World Foods section £1.50) so perhaps less exotic that I’d thought. It smelt deliciously citrusy.

The chicken was marinated overnight in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and four teaspoons of sumac.  Four teaspoons!! Clearly this didn’t have the same pungency as chilli! The following evening two pitta breads (the recipe suggests either these or flatbreads) were generously spread with sliced red onions that had been sautéed in a little oil and yet more sumac. Once cooked, the chicken was laid on top. The only bit of the recipe missed out was the few pine nuts sprinkled on top.

The suggestion was to serve with a cucumber and parsley salad but not keen on parsley, I mixed chopped cucumber with some edamame beans. It looked like this:

image

It tasted like … … … chicken on top of onion on top of pitta bread Image result for sad face images. What a disappointment! Sumac must be one of the mildest spices available. The chicken had absorbed a slight lemon taste but that was probably from the lemon juice in which it had been marinated for twenty four hours. The sumac barely added anything to the dish.  Have you eaten anything flavoured with sumac, or had experience of using it in cooking?

NB: Should you ever find yourself in the position of foraging for sumac, remember that some sumac species are poisonous but culinary sumac is easily identifiable by its red bulbs. Don’t touch the white sumac bulbs.  If you’re tempted to buy it, best do so from a reputable retailer!

14 thoughts on “A disappointing dish

  1. I have tasted fresh sumac and it has a strong tangy flavor, when fresh. I guess the flavor dissipates when dried. Maybe use it with a very delicately flavored fish, or something and use more to get more of the flavor.

    Like

  2. I always thought that Sumac’s had long roots or suckers that popped up elsewhere, so you had difficulty in getting rid of them? Maybe I’m thinking of another tree, but this is a vague memory of Sumacs.
    As for a disappointing recipe, I thought I’d look up a recipe for using up cold roast chicken and came across a recipe on the internet for a chicken and mushroom hot pot. It was similar in some ways to a pie that I make using left-over chicken, but to it was added (in the case of the hot pot) canned sweet corn and really, it didn’t taste very nice at all. I do think sweet corn takes over in any dish. OK if you want to eat corn-on-the-cob or a nice corn chowder, but I’d keep it well away from chicken and mushrooms in the future. The hot pot without the sweet corn would’ve been very tasty. This is one I shan’t be making again and yet the reviews for it were glowing in their praise. Maybe it’s just me who isn’t keen on sweet corn in this dish.
    Margaret P

    Like

    1. I’m not a fan of sweet corn at all. I don’t mind if there’s a sprinkling in a restaurant salad but I’d never add it willingly. My mother loved it but she ate it dripping with butter (which I detest). Perhaps that influenced me! I will use sumac again, it certainly wasn’t unpleasant but I’d add more than a recipe called for.

      Like

      1. I have for a life-time detested butter, too, Eloise until I had some French butter in Le Bistrot Pierre. It is like nothing we produce, it’s very pale and not greasy/oily, like English butter (yuk, horrid!) Now, especially on crusty baguettes, we have Normandy butter. I never thought I’d ever like butter, but now I prefer it on this particular kind of bread to low-fat spread, such as Bertolli. But for sandwiches I still use a low-fat spread.
        I love corn on the cob, but strangely enough not canned sweetcorn.
        Margaret P

        Like

        1. I remember you mentioning French butter. I haven’t tried it but I cant stand anything remotely buttery or creamy in terms of spread, nor mayo. Salad cream, tartare sauce. I always ring ahead if I’m going for afternoon tea to request dry bread and no mayo for my sandwiches. I’m not keen on many creamy sauces either. Curiously, I love cream on scones or with puds!

          Like

  3. So sorry that your cooking with sumac didn’t turn out well. From the looks of your recipe, this looks like a classic Palestinian chicken dish. I use sumac a lot in Middle Eastern cooking and it’s not a “hot” spice but adds color and like you said, a citrus type of flavor. It’s very popular in Middle Eastern spinach pies, too. We used to have a whole row of sumac tress in our first house. They grew like crazy but I never used the seeds from them. Wishing you all the best, Pat

    Like

    1. It certainly wasn’t unpleasant in any way, Pat, but I’d expected something more of it. No matter, I shall find another recipe and use more of it! How interesting that you had sumac trees in your garden. Ive been to,d that they grow in the UK too. I’d no idea.

      Like

  4. It’s such a disappointment when a dish doesn’t live up to your expectations, especially when you’ve put time and effort into it. I used to really enjoy watching Masterchef but recently I find the attitude of the presenters spoils it for me. X

    Like

  5. We always used to call Sumac trees – Vinegar trees and it’s only since the sudden emergence of Sumac as a spice used here that I’ve found out why. Our Sumac here is still to break into leaf this year

    Like

    1. Wow, you actually know of these trees! You are probably wondering why anyone would bother writing about them. I didn’t even know they existed! Where are you?

      Like

      1. You see sumac trees in South east England. My husbands neighbour had one in their garden when he was growing up. Fascinating tree with the flower but I had no idea it is a spice.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s