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IN NEW JERSEY, A TURKISH CULINARY ENTREPRENEUR WITH GUTS

In recent years, American diners have been introduced to Turkish specialties such as simit, doner and kumpir (the Turkish baked potato on steroids). But is America ready for kokorec (pronounced "cocoa-wretch"), the Turkish street-food staple made out of grilled lamb intestines? One Turkish entrepreneur thinks so. NorthJersey.Com has the story:

What McDonald's is to the Big Mac, Muhuttin "Mike" Bagrlyanik someday hopes to be for a Turkish street food called kokorec.

It might be a tough sell for Bagrlyanik, a Fort Lee resident and Istanbul native whose company — Black Seas Fisheries — imports anchovies, turbot and other fish to the United States.

Kokorec is not for the culinary faint of stomach. As one wag at the Australian newspaper The Age noted, it takes guts to eat kokorec — "miles and miles of guts" — because it is made from the skewered intestines of suckling lambs.

But the meal, which is fried, chopped, seasoned and served on toasted bread, is popular among Turkish people.

"We have lots of orders. Everybody's waiting," Bagrlyanik said recently from his office in south Paterson, where his small, four-employee company opened a meat and poultry processing plant in February.

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63947

What McDonald's is to the Big Mac, Muhuttin "Mike" Bagrlyanik someday hopes to be for a Turkish street food called kokorec.

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Businessman Muhuttin 'Mike' Bagrlyanik has plans to produce kokorec, a Turkish dish made of lamb intestines, in Paterson.


It might be a tough sell for Bagrlyanik, a Fort Leeresident and Istanbul native whose company — Black Seas Fisheries — imports anchovies, turbot and other fish to the United States.

Kokorec is not for the culinary faint of stomach. As one wag at the Australian newspaper The Age noted, it takes guts to eat kokorec — "miles and miles of guts" — because it is made from the skewered intestines of suckling lambs.

But the meal, which is fried, chopped, seasoned and served on toasted bread, is popular among Turkish people.

"We have lots of orders. Everybody's waiting," Bagrlyanik said recently from his office in southPaterson, where his small, four-employee company opened a meat and poultry processing plant in February.

Recently, the Paterson City Council approved a $75,000 loan to Black Seas so that the company can purchase the smokehouse, chimney and ventilation system and other equipment needed to produce kokorec.

The loan — recommended by the Paterson Restoration Corp. — would cover about 37 percent of the project's costs with the rest being paid by Black Seas and Bagrlyanik.

The company started four years ago in Connecticut and moved in February to a 12,000-square-foot building at 102 Maryland Ave.

Bagrlyanik also opened a restaurant called Turkish Street Food in a space shared with a bakery at 1057 Main St.

New Jersey has the highest concentration of Turkish-Americans in the U.S. and Passaic Countyhas the highest Turkish population within the state.

But Bagrlyanik said it wasn't the proximity to a Turkish-American population that drew him to New Jersey. Rather it was access to processing plants where he was able to obtain a supply of sheep intestines, a part of the animal those plants normally discard.

Bagrlyanik has an application pending before the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ship those intestines to Turkey and Lebanon for use in other food products.

He also is waiting for the arrival of a journeyman kokorec maker from Turkey later this year before he starts manufacturing the product in Paterson.

Kokorec is made by wrapping strands of two kinds of intestines around a 2-foot-long metal skewer. This creates a 5-pound roll that resembles a large sausage.

A chef takes slices of the roll, then boils, chops and fries them, adding seasonings such as oregano and cumin plus tomatoes and onions.

While a meal made of intestines might be off-putting to some, it's not uncommon in other cultures. Chitterlings, long a staple of African-American soul food, is made from pig intestines. The popular Mexican soup menudo is made with tripe from a cow's stomach.

Bagrlyanik plans to begin by marketing kokorec to the same customers who buy the fish products he imports. He hopes then to expand by exporting kokorec to European markets.

A friend who is helping with the project said she and Bagrlyanik believe they can make it work.

"Maybe it's not going to be McDonald's," Aysegul Eskier concedes. "But it is going to be popular."

"People say to him, you are dreaming," she said, pointing to a kokorec sandwich served at the restaurant. "We are not dreaming. It's fact."

http://www.northjersey.com/news/bergen/126100748_Turkish_American_Dream.html

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