I’ve wanted to talk to you about Isot for a long time, but the little packet I opened sat on my counter for a few weeks, waiting to go into something else. But it wasn’t until I found myself with an overload of eggs and an odd craving for an egg salad sandwich (something I haven’t had for years) that I found a way to feature this curiously delicious pepper, which has fruity and spicy nuances happening at the same time.
It is also known as Urfa Biber and is deep-purplish ground pepper. Whereas pomegranate molasses was all the rage a few years ago, Isot kind of got overlooked. And because I’m constantly asked, “What’s the next food trend?” whenever I get interviewed, I’d like to propose Isot.
It was given to me as part of a Turkish care package by Cenk when he came to visit from Istanbul. And ever since I ripped open the curious little packet of pepper, which is the color of burnished eggplant skin, I’ve been intrigued by the thought of putting it in – or on – something else.
I found myself overstocked on eggs because my local grocery store had a promotion on free-range eggs a few weeks ago. After watching a television program on how “caged” chickens are treated here and elsewhere, I decided a while back to use free-range eggs as much as I can.
I go through many eggs with all the baking and so forth, so I bought eight or ten 6-packs of free-range eggs. (Of course, my ‘quantity-buying’ always startles the cashiers here in Paris.) Then I found myself embroiled with projects other than baking around here, including construction and moving house, so I made egg salad with my surplus of eggs.
You can use any spicy or smoked red pepper or chile powder that you wish. I know this is kind of radical, in a retro, hippy-dippy way, perhaps, but a handful of sunflower seeds is perfect in egg salad. So next time you make egg salad, you might want to try adding some. They have sort of a sly nutty, buttery taste and a subtle crunch, which acts as a nice counterpoint and pairs surprisingly well with a scoop of mayonnaise and the eggs.
I do, however, draw the line at sprouts. I used to eat because I thought you were supposed to like them until I realized that I didn’t. So I stopped.
But I was happy to revisit egg salad, especially using an ingredient that was new to me. First, I spread it on some grainy bread; then, I found myself scraping the last of it right out of the bowl.
My uncle once told me a funny story: about forty years ago, he once set out to make a recipe called for capers, and he thought he would use fresh rather than something from a jar. He looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find new. Finally, he could only see the pickled ones, which he later realized were how capers were prepared and sold.
And now, every time I open a jar, I think of his story. I like a few chopped capers in my egg salad or something a bit vinegary. You could also use chopped cornichons or pickles and their juice in place of the stunts. You can use any pepper powder that you want. Note that if you use a red one, it will turn the color of the egg salad a somewhat fiery shade of red.
If you like this recipe, then I would suggest that you should try this recipe too: Best Baked Polenta Sticks Recipe
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