Tantuni is a famous street food of Mersin city. When you think about Mersin city of Turkey, Tantuni is the first thing that comes up to our mind. It is made with sliced beef and served with parsley and raw onions sumac mix, and tomatoes.
As a local tradition, it is served with lavash bread as dürüm. The word dürüm means wrapped in English and it is widely asked by the chef before you give the order. It is offered either as ‘wrapped’ or in the ‘bread’ at most restaurants.
When you ask any Tantuni chef in Mersin city, they all say their method is different than the other chefs. Basically, there are two different cooking methods for Tantuni. The first one is to cook beef with tomatoes and serve it together with parsley, raw onions, and sumac mixed in lavash bread.
The second method is to cook beef solely and serve it together with parsley, raw onions and sumac mix, and tomatoes together in lavash bread. Both cooking styles taste great. But if you ask me; I would pick the first method which I am going to share with you today.
In Turkey, we like chicken meat a lot too. So for this reason, some restaurants in Turkey also like to offer chicken meat Tantuni on their menus. Taste-wise, if you make it from chicken leg meat, it tastes great. However, if you choose to make it from chicken breast meat, it tastes stiff and not as tasty as chicken leg meat. You can try both variations and stick with the one which you like the most.
How to make it?
Traditionally, Tantuni is made on a special Tantuni pan. The main feature of this frying pan is having a big curved spot at the center of it. This curved spot is used for cooking beef. The purpose of the curved spot is to point the heat to a certain area. The remaining empty area inside the pan is used to present the pre-boiled beef meat to the customer.
When a customer comes and gives an order, the chef puts a portion of pre-boiled beef meat inside the curved spot of the pan and cooks the beef cubes according to his cooking style. The pre-boiling of the beef cubes helps to keep the taste and the softness of the meat for long hours.
As we are not planning to make and sell this magnificent taste in a food car or in a restaurant, we don’t need to use a special pan. When I make it at home by using a wok, I can reach the original taste with ease. As a beverage, try it with Ayran aside.
Pro Tip: Local Tantuni chefs prefer to use cottonseed oil while cooking the boiled beef cubes on the Tantuni pan. During cooking, once they see the meat start to absorb the cottonseed oil, they add a splash of water to the pan to protect the tenderness of the meat. The chefs say adding water lets the meat cook with evaporation. The traditional method is to use cottonseed oil while frying Tantuni. However; if you prefer to use vegetable oil, it is also fine.
Where to eat?
When I go to Mersin city, I prefer to stop by either Abidin Tantuni or Memoş Tantuni. These are the most famous Tantuni restaurants in the city. If I am in İstanbul, I like to eat Tantuni at Suat Usta 33 Mersin Tantuni. If you come to Turkey and planning to visit only Istanbul, just give a shot for Suat Usta 33 Mersin Tantuni.
- 1 lbs Beef (fat free) diced
- 1 /2 bunch Parsley (washed and drained) finely chopped
- 2 Medium size onions diced
- 2 Medium size tomatoes diced
- 2 Sweet green chili peppers center seeds removed and sliced
- 1 teaspoon Ground red chilli pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon Sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 4 tbsp Cottonseed Oil
- 1/2 Glass of water
Mix parsley, onion, salt, and sumac in a bowl and set it aside.
Boil the beef cubes with its own juice until the beef cubes color turns to brown color.
Heat the wok at medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of cottonseed oil.
Place the boiled beef cubes into the wok and fry them for about 5 minutes. While frying them add a splash of water a few times (2 times) to protect the beef cubes tenderness.
Add the sliced sweet green chili peppers and stir for about 3 minutes.
Add the ground red pepper and stir for about 2 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes and stir for about 5 minutes.
Bring the heat to low and place the lavash bread on top of the dish to absorb the dish juice. And keep lavash bread on top of the dish for about 30 seconds. Let it absorb dish juice a bit.
Remove the lavash bread from the top of the dish and place on a plate.
Place the cooked meat in the center of lavash bread and distribute it evenly from top to bottom like a stripline by using a spoon.
Add the raw onions, sumac, and parsley mix on top.
Roll the lavash bread and make a wrap. (Don't forget to close the bottom of the roll. Otherwise, all ingredients fall).
Repeat the same process until all meat in the wok finish.