Like North African shakshuka and French piperade, Turkish menemen is a tempting dish of onions, tomatoes, chile peppers, and eggs. You make a quick tomato-based vegetable saute first, then add eggs. Some cooks drop the eggs into indentations in the mixture so they poach in the sauce and the dish is very closely related to shakshuka, which uses the same method.
The other way is to add the eggs to the vegetables and make a soft scramble, but that doesn’t always look as good as it tastes and neither the eggs nor the tomato mixture shines. In this method, I cook them separately and combine them at the last minute so each component maintains its integrity. Saute cherry tomatoes with a sweet onion and a mild chile pepper in one skillet and make the eggs in another (preferably nonstick). The eggs should be so full in the pan you think they’re going to tip out; I like to use an 8-inch skillet to cook seven eggs. With a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the skillet until the eggs aren’t quite cooked, then fold in the tomato mixture, let the eggs finish setting, and you have the best of all worlds: a soft scramble, spicy tomatoes, and a quick go-to dish that generations of cooks from North Africa to Turkey can vouch for.
(Turkish scrambled eggs)
|4||tablespoons olive oil|
|1||large sweet onion, coarsely chopped|
|Salt and black pepper, to taste|
|½||teaspoon maras pepper, Aleppo pepper, or crushed red pepper|
|20||small cherry tomatoes, halved, or 12 small tomatoes (sometimes labeled “cocktail”), quartered|
|1||mild chile pepper, such as poblano or Anaheim, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh parsley|
1. Have on hand a 10-inch skillet and an 8-inch nonstick skillet.
2. In the 10-inch skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the maras, Aleppo, or crushed pepper, tomatoes, and chile pepper. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes collapse. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and red pepper, if you like.
4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and black pepper.
5. In the 8-inch skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the eggs and with a rubber spatula, immediately start scraping the eggs down from the sides of the pan to the center, tipping the pan to fill the edges again. Continue in this way for 3 minutes, without letting the bottom of the eggs brown, until they are not quite set and form very large curds.
6. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the eggs and fold gently several times to mix them and set the eggs. Sprinkle with parsley.