Potato Salad with Crunchy Pastirma

October 16th, 2009  | Category: Salad

potato salad

The inspiration for this potato salad came when I was preparing eggs & pastırma for a brunch with friends. For those who haven’t heard of it before, pastırma (pass-trrr-mah) is an air-dried cured beef, which I consider to be one of the ultimate treats for a typical Turkish breakfast or brunch. Pastırma is believed to be the origin of the Italian pastrami, but for me the taste is much closer to a beef jerky.

The last time I prepared the dish, I was juggling many dishes at once. The pastırma slices fried more than intended and became ultra crispy. Instead of starting over, I crumbled and sprinkled them on top of eggs. It was a smashing success. Following that brunch dish, I kept on overcooking my pastırma slices and sprinkling the salty bits on top of everything. And the minute they hit these warm potatoes in a creamy mustard dressing, I knew this recipe was going to be a keeper.

potato salad

You can find pastırma at your local Middle Eastern grocer (may also be called halal pastrami or dried beef strips) or here, but in case you can’t, you can definitely prepare this salad with bacon. I am sure it will be equally delicious.

And if you’re lucky to find it, please note the following: The last step in preparing pastırma involves covering the meat with a paste of spices that include crushed cumin, fenugreek, garlic and hot paprika, which is called çemen (che-men). Çemen doesn’t fry well, so I recommend discarding it before frying the slices. It is usually too sticky to handle but resting the pastırma slices an hour  in the fridge uncovered dries the çemen and makes it easier to peel off.

Here are two slices of pastırma, çemen removed.

You can also use pastırma as a filling in these börek dishes.

By the way, here’s a great tip for storing parsley: Cut half an inch from the bottom and put them in a glass with fresh water. Place a zip lock bag on top and it will keep fresh for weeks!

pastırma and parsley



4-6 servings


  • 2.25 pounds Yukon gold or other waxy potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3.5 oz pastırma (or bacon), sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper


  1. Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with hot water and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until soft when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30-40 minutes. Run under cold water to cool slightly, then drain and peel off their skins.
  2. Halve the potatoes, then slice each halve into one inch thick pieces and set aside.
  3. Fry pastırma slices in two batches (one tablespoon of olive oil for each batch) until crispy. Transfer to a cutting board and wait until they cool down.
  4. Sprinkle salt on garlic cloves and mash to a paste with a fork. Place in a mixing bowl and combine with mustard. Add red wine vinegar and whisk until combined.
  5. Add mayonnaise, buttermilk and the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and whisk thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add potatoes and toss to combine.
  6. Crumble the pastırma slices and add to the potato salad, toss and transfer to your serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.
Never miss a recipe. Subscribe via email.


  1. 1 - Joumana on October 16th, 2009

    Hi Cenk
    Wonderful idea and post! I was wondering if you had the actual recipe for basterma ( this is how we call it in Beirut)? the Armenian folks here keep it a secret!
    Also, would you be so kind as to give me the name of your favorite Turkish restaurant in Istanbul? I will be there with my daughter in December.
    Thanks a million

  2. 2 - Anna @ moonberryjuice on October 16th, 2009

    That salad looks really nice, I love all the different colors 🙂

  3. 3 - Selma on October 16th, 2009

    The salad looks very delicious! The colours of this salad looks amazing! So bright 🙂

  4. 4 - Sean on October 16th, 2009

    Fabulous! And gorgeous photography as always. Such an interesting sidenote about Pastirma being an etymological (and culinary) root for pastrami. I’ve been more fascinated than usual with food etymologies lately.

  5. 5 - SarahJ on October 16th, 2009

    I couldn’t get the comment link to work in your new photo section but wanted to say your “veiw in hdr” is just beautiful. I can’t quite tell if I love your blog for the food or the photos. Thanks so much for both.

  6. 6 - Donalyn on October 16th, 2009

    This looks really good. I’ll have to look for the meat you use, but in the meantime, peppered bacon will have to take its place – Yum!

  7. 7 - Christie @ Fig&Cherry on October 17th, 2009

    Great salad! I’ve just come back from Istanbul and completely fell in love with cheese borek and hazelnut turkish delight. I’m about to go and click the link for your borek recipe to give it a go!

  8. 8 - Jeanne Le on October 17th, 2009

    mmm mmm Turkish bacon, better than American bacon!

  9. 9 - Shandy on October 19th, 2009

    I love your tip about parsley and the potato salad: WoW! Very tasty sounding and looks just as delicious

  10. 10 - feride on October 22nd, 2009

    What a great way to use bastirma! Luckily, they sell it here in LA in Turkish/Middle Eatern/Persian markets and I stack my fridge with them all the time:) I will save the recipe to make one day, hopefully soon. Thanks for sharing!

  11. 11 - SippitySup on October 23rd, 2009

    Every time I come here I learn something new! I suppose pastrimi is a bit like the Italian Bresaola (air dried beef with a hint of coriander). Thanks for the info, and one more reason to visit turkey!

  12. 12 - MariannaF on October 23rd, 2009

    my dad loves pastirma but as a kid i never ate it bc i thought it was too strong of a taste. ever since, ive never really tried it again… but i think on a potato salad it must be divine! great recipe cenk!

  13. 13 - we are never full on October 29th, 2009

    i’m absolutely salivating looking at this. thanks for introducing me to pastirma. genius move by frying it. great pictures!

  14. 14 - Kimby on October 29th, 2009

    I love potato salad and using pastirma like that is a great idea! Any idea where to find buttermilk in Istanbul? Or just do the vinegar/lemon juice in milk substitution? Thanks for your super great blog!

  15. 15 - Cenk on October 30th, 2009

    Kimby – You can either use that substitution or use kefir like I do.

  16. 16 - Dinners & Dreams on October 30th, 2009


    I love Turkish food. I was born in Morocco and I find the flavors of both cuisines to be similar at times. I guess all Mediterannean food has points in common. The pastirma salad looks fab! Thank you.


  17. 17 - Stephanie on October 31st, 2009

    This sounds amazing. I made a potato salad very similar to this and included some pears, since they were in season. The crisp, slightly sweet bite was really nice.

    Your photography is beautiful as well. Thanks for sharing.

  18. 18 - The Purple Foodie on November 1st, 2009

    Wonderful looking salad Cenk!

  19. 19 - altaf on November 5th, 2009

    how simple it is!!! must try

  20. 20 - barbara on November 13th, 2009

    trim the parsley bottoms occasionally to keep longer.

    love yr recipes and the photography.

    i never heard of frying up basterma for use in recipes. cool. it has such an interesting sweet-spice flavor, unlike any other cured meat i’ve ever eaten.

  21. 21 - Mrs Ergül on November 24th, 2009

    What a creative use of ingredients!

    Also thanks for the tip on storing fresh herbs as they often dry out on me!

  22. 22 - Kiri on January 30th, 2010

    Incredible food blog! I stumbled across it whilst looking for info on vine leaves after harvesting some from my garden today. Lovely recipes and beautiful photos! Thanks 🙂

  23. 23 - Diego Barreto on February 17th, 2010

    Hi friend, I am Brazilian, I read and enjoyed your blog. Food is a universal passion and brings people together. Congratulations for the content! Big hug!

  24. 24 - judy on September 30th, 2010

    ooh! what a great way to keep fresh parsley… ive always had mine for a day or two before they withered =P hmm. this doesn’t seem possible to get around here, so bacon or pastrami it is, till i go middle-eastern grocer hunting this weekend!

Leave a Comment