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.
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!
POTATO SALAD WITH CRUNCHY PASTIRMA RECIPE
- 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
- 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.
- Halve the potatoes, then slice each halve into one inch thick pieces and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Crumble the pastırma slices and add to the potato salad, toss and transfer to your serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.
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
Anna @ moonberryjuice
That salad looks really nice, I love all the different colors 🙂
The salad looks very delicious! The colours of this salad looks amazing! So bright 🙂
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.
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.
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!
Christie @ Fig&Cherry
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!
mmm mmm Turkish bacon, better than American bacon!
I love your tip about parsley and the potato salad: WoW! Very tasty sounding and looks just as delicious
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!
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!
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!
we are never full
i’m absolutely salivating looking at this. thanks for introducing me to pastirma. genius move by frying it. great pictures!
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!
Kimby – You can either use that substitution or use kefir like I do.
Dinners & Dreams
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.
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.
The Purple Foodie
Wonderful looking salad Cenk!
how simple it is!!! must try
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.
What a creative use of ingredients!
Also thanks for the tip on storing fresh herbs as they often dry out on me!
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 🙂
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!
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!