Chef Ana Sortun
Chef Ana Sortun

Ana Sortun

F&W Star Chef » See All F&W Chef Superstars Restaurants: Oleana, Sofra (Cambridge, MA) Education: La Varenne Cooking School, Paris What are you known for? Using spices and eastern Mediterranean flavors. Favorite cookbooks of all time. All of Greg Malouf’s books, for his creative view on Middle Eastern food, his ability put a personal, modern touch on something so traditional. What’s one technique everyone should know? How to mince garlic using the back of a knife. I don’t mean smashing it—I mean literally slicing it with the opposite, dull edge of the blade. It minces the garlic finely without juicing it up too much. Best-bang-for-the-buck food trip? Turkey, particularly Istanbul or Gaziantep. Istanbul’s not so cheap but the street food is—I love to get the tripe sandwiches and fried mussels in the market. Gazientep is inexpensive. It’s the food capital of Turkey. I love the restaurant Imam Cagdas. If you could invent a restaurant for an imaginary project, what would it be? Some type of cool community center with classes and a bunch of different cafés. There are several where I’m from in Seattle, but none out here in Boston. What is your current food obsession? Sprouted things, like lentils and grains. I’ve been experimenting with some sprouting projects. I soak the beans or grains, then spread them out on a big sheet tray and cover them with a wet towel. We’ve been putting the sprouts in salads mostly, with storage—crop vegetables like shaved carrots, cabbage or turnips. Describe a meal that tells your story as a chef. I first went to Turkey about 15 years ago, invited by some friends. I didn’t know anything about the country. We went to Gaziantep, where they arranged a potluck lunch. Thirty-five women each brought a different recipe they cherished. That’s where I first tasted the spice combinations we now use—unusual ones like sumac and dried spearmint and different red peppers, or cumin combined with cinnamon. Nothing was heavily spiced, but their bright flavors were like nothing I had never imagined before. Salads, vegetables cooked in yogurt, tiny bulgur meatballs braised with eggplant and tomato—the style of food and the flavors inspired me to start studying what I make now. What do you eat straight out of the fridge, standing up? Oh, my god, what don’t I eat straight out of the fridge standing up? I don’t think I can narrow it down to one thing. Best new store-bought ingredient? Kalamata olives from Paul Hatziiliades of Extra Virgin Foods. He’s bringing some great stuff in from Greece (extravirginfoods.com). I’ve always hated kalamatas since they’re usually mushy and overbrined, but his are the most exquisite ones I’ve ever had in my life. They come from a small estate. Favorite online shop?Ritrovo.com. They have some beautiful things from Italy; we use their Controne peppers at Sofra, our bakery. It’s a dried pepper somewhat like Urfa or Aleppo pepper, but with more heat. Theirs is made by one man, who sorts the peppers by hand and dries them in the sun. Favorite app? ChefsFeed, for eating out when I’m traveling. I used it when I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. They’ve done an amazing job.
Kibbeh Bil Sanieh
Rating: Unrated
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Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, also called Pizza Kibbeh for its appearance, is a spiced, bulgur-based vegetarian main course, a decadent dish enjoyed by the monks at Saint Anthony of Qozhaya in Lebanon on special occasions. This version is one of their favorites. It's one of Ana Sortun's favorites, too. Sortun, who learned how to make the recipe from the Lebanese monks, offers this advice: "The most important part is to knead the bulgur in the same fashion as though it were meat, until it holds together and becomes creamy—usually a minute, sometimes a bit more. You can use your hands or a KitchenAid with a paddle attachment. If you don't knead the bulgur enough, it will stay crumbly."
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Chef Ana Sortun tosses her superfast skillet-cooked brussels sprouts with sausage and a citrusy honey glaze. Slideshow:  More Quick Side Dishes 
At Oleana, Ana Sortun uses za'atar—a type of dried summer savory—instead of the fresh oregano she offers as a substitute here.Plus: More Appetizer Recipes and Tips
Tahini Remoulade
Rating: Unrated
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Ana Sortun likes to serve this tangy Middle Eastern twist on the classic French sauce with oily fish like bluefish. But the intense flavor of the tahini stands up equally well to charred lamb. More Middle Eastern Recipes
Chef Way Ana Sortun tops stuffed zucchini with a tangy sauce of feta, olive oil and Hungarian peppers (spicy wax chiles).Easy Way Top the roasted zucchini with a little feta, then broil briefly. More Delicious Shrimp Dishes
This recipe was inspired by the incredibly moist lentil patties called küfte that Ana Sortun first tried in Istanbul at Ferda Erdinc's vegetarian restaurant, Zencefil. The küfte here are fried, but they can also be served grilled, baked, or "raw." Terrific Green Salads
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Orange Aioli
Rating: Unrated
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 More Terrific Condiments
Chef Way Ana Sortun's pastry chef, Maura Kilpatrick, adds cinnamon and cocoa nibs to the syrup that soaks her chocolate baklava.Easy Way The baklava is fabulous even with a basic honey syrup; no need for cocoa nibs and cinnamon. Slideshow:  More Chocolate Desserts 
This recipe was inspired by the incredibly moist lentil patties called küfte that Ana Sortun first tried in Istanbul at Ferda Erdinc's vegetarian restaurant, Zencefil. The küfte here are fried, but they can also be served grilled, baked, or "raw." Terrific Green Salads
Orange Aioli
Rating: Unrated
New!
 More Terrific Condiments
Chef Way Ana Sortun's pastry chef, Maura Kilpatrick, adds cinnamon and cocoa nibs to the syrup that soaks her chocolate baklava.Easy Way The baklava is fabulous even with a basic honey syrup; no need for cocoa nibs and cinnamon. Slideshow:  More Chocolate Desserts 
Fideos (thin dried wheat noodles usually sold in coils) were introduced to Spain by the Moors and are used in Middle Eastern and Spanish dishes. Slideshow: Recipes with Chickpeas 
Ana Sortun learned this recipe from a friend in Armenia named Armen Mehrabyan, an exporter who supplies her restaurant Oleana with great teas and with spice blends for fish. You can mold the pâté in a terrine or bowl lined with plastic wrap if you prefer a different shape. Plus:  More Appetizer Recipes and Tips 
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