A Mediterranean Plant Capers

April 2014

KNOWN AS “CAPARI” IN MEDITERRANEAN COOKING, CAPERS ADD ZEST TO SALADS AND OTHER DISHES, AS WELL AS BEING USED AS A GARNISH. PLUS THEY’RE GOOD FOR YOU!

Bir Akdeniz Bitkisi Kebere

From time immemorial, people have made culinary use of the herbs and spices that grow in their environment, and the capers that grow in Turkey are no exception. The Caparis bush, which sends roots down as far as 12 meters especially in poor, dry soil with high salt or limestone content, are used not only in food and medicine but also in the paint industry. Before being consumed, capers must first be pickled in brine. The name “caper”, for this small berry that was used to enhance the taste of food in regions without mustard or spices, is derived from the Aramaic word, “qapar”. Known by a number of different names around Turkey, capers today have settled into the language as “capari” under the influence of their use in western cooking. Nevertheless, in Ottoman cuisine, capers are known to have been pickled in vinegar and mandrake root as far back as the 14th century. Based on Ottoman palace kitchen records, capers and pickled caper blossoms were procured from the town of Osmancık in Çorum province. The sources mention a dish called caper soup but little is known as yet about how it was made. Considered by the experts to have therapeutic value, capers are used in local dishes all along the shores of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is also a leading producer of capers.

CAPER SAUCE
INGREDIENTS
30 g capers
10 g walnuts
20 ml milk
5 g garlic
10 cl olive oil
20 g bread crumbs
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION
Moisten the bread crumbs in the milk and buzz in a blender with the other ingredients. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with finely chopped fresh dill (optional).

STEAMED GROUPER WITH CAPERS
INGREDIENTS
100 g grouper
20 g capers
20 g red onion
20 g fennel root
5 g garlic
5 g fresh dill
5 g flat leaf parsley
Sea salt
Black peppercorns

PREPARATION
Clean fish and cut into cubes. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the fennel, garlic and red onion until the onion is cooked. Then add the fish. When the fish starts to color, add the salt and pepper and then water. Cover tightly and cook for about 10 minutes. Serve in a deep bowl garnished with chopped dill and parsley.

ZUCCHINI BOATS WITH CAPERS
INGREDIENTS
50 g white cheese (feta)
10 g flour
2 medium zucchini
5 g fresh dill weed
5 g flat leaf parsley
5 g green onions
Salt
Black pepper
20 g capers
10 cl olive oil
5 g garlic

PREPARATION
Grate one of the zucchini. Halve the other one lengthwise and scoop out the pulp. Finely chop the fresh herbs and green onions. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, then fill the hollowed out zucchini with the mixture. Bake approximately 10 minutes in a preheated 180 C oven.