Epic Mint and the Lebanese Kibbeh

Nov. 17, 2009, 1:46 p.m. | by Adriano Petrich | Categories: lebanese

Epic Mint and the Lebanese Kibbeh


Mint, 1 Bunch, chopped

Beef, 1 kg ( 2 + 1/5 lb ) great quality, for this I used strip steak and ground it myself

Onion, 2 medium, chopped

Red pepper, 1 or green, chopped

Salt, 1 tsp

Oven temp

230 °C ( 446 °F )

Side dishes

cucumber salad: 1 Serving

harissa: 1 tsp

Materials and Methods

Fresh ingredients

Please stand with me: I am on a weird frame of mind today.

That said, I would like to say sorry for the lack of posting. I broke my camera and it was being fixed. Update: I also half-wrote this article and never finished for a week

I will save for a later day a large and boring ramble about how stupid I was trusting that Sony Alpha was still a Minolta, and how bad the customer service for the Sony Alpha was.

Important to know is that I got it back and I can post again.

On the way back home after getting the camera I stoped by my trusty greengrocer, ancious to cook something and make a fine post about it.

I had no idea of what to cook, but that is the best time to let the ingredients talk to you.

So Behold! From the fresh herbs shelf it shone on me!


Large leafed, fragrant and delicious mint

Weirdly enough looking at that mint the dish that came to mind was kibbeh

OBS: if you can find such epic mint close to you just give me a note then we can stand laughing at those folks that can’t get it.

Mint Salsa and Bulgur wheat

Brazil, but specifically Sao Paulo have a large immigrant comunity. One of the largest is the Lebanese.

So much that sfiha (a meat pastry) is such an embedded feature on the foodscape here that (and I’m not exagerating) every (and I mean every in a strict sense) single boteco serves it.

Because of that deep cultural influence I am a wee bit weary of talking about kibbeh. It is one of those things that there’s one recipe per Lebanese Grandmother, and I don’t have one to back me up.

Kibbeh is a mixture of meat and bulgur wheat (and in my twisted mind mint also) that comes into 3 ways: Raw Kibbeh (pretty much a tartar), Deep fried Kibbeh and Oven Kibbeh. I’m gonna do an oven kibbeh, mostly :)

The very first thing to do is soak the bulgur in water.

Wash it until the water is somewhat clean (about 4 changes of water) and then place it in a bowl and add enough water to cover it with one inch of water. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

While you wait chop the mint leaves, onions and chillies, or start making a cucumber yogurt salad

The Simple Idea

Bulgur will act as a sponge and adsorb (it will absorb some also) huge amounts of water. We will squease that water out and then mix with the ground meat and salsa so when it tries to inflate again it will infalte with their juice.

That is the most important step. Try to squease the last drop of water of the wheat, and mix is troughly with the meat and salsa.

Mix for 5 minutes minimum and rest for 10 minutes on the fridge.

We interrupt this recipe..

Once you have the base kibbeh done you can eat it as Raw kibbeh.

It is one of my favorite dishes for a warm day, but one that cannot be taken lightly.

It has not only raw meat, but raw grounded meat, ok? I said it.

So to get here a lot of background work was done.

The rules for raw grounded meat:

Only buy meat on a butcher that you trust: pretty straightforward the meat has to look nice and all. Bad butchers can hide the ugly frezzer burned side of the meat when they show you. So trust is important.

Meat has to be great not only good: It happen more than once that I went to buy meat and it wasn’t great enough. No cutting corners here. you can still make oven kibbeh with good meat, but raw has to be great.

You grind yourself the meat: it is the only trusty method. Grinders are dirty places even on spot clean butchers. Either have a hand grinder at home or pulse the meat on the food processor a few times.

Meat has to be chilled all the times: Never leave it on the counter for longer than needed.

..and generally more irritating

By now the yogurt salad is done and as the epic mint leaves were gigantic I made a chiffonade (chopped them in fine stipes) to place on top.

The cucumber salad and harissa (pepper paste) are THE side dishes for kibbeh.

Scoring and Baking

Pre heat the oven.

On a baking dish press down the kibbeh until you have a uniform 1/2 inch layer.

With a spatula or a knife mark diamonds all the way down to the pan. On a nonstick pan I use normally a woden spatula.

Bake until the surface is golden brown and delicious. That’s about 25 minutes I think.

Cut and serve

With a spatula cut the pieces on the diamond marks.

Serve with a dollop of cucumber yogurt salad and a small dollop of harissa (or any flavorfull pepper sauce)


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