By Flavor & The Menu
March 3, 2020
Sayat and Laura Ozyilmaz are a husband-and-wife team in San Francisco behind the sensational pop-up called Istanbul Modern SF. The menu transcends borders, dipping into the Eastern Med, the Balkan Peninsula and the Caucasus. Rich and memorable flavor building is the common theme. Of course, lamb is a menu mainstay in that part of the world so it plays a large role in their menu development. They source Aussie pasture-raised lamb, relying on its high quality and consistent flavor.
They also make sure lamb works for their bottom line. “We approach lamb from a zero-waste perspective,” says Sayat Ozyilmaz, who hails from Turkey. “The sous vide cooking liquid becomes the base for a soup, the trim goes onto a flatbread, and the perfectly diced pieces are used for kebabs.”
A leg up
Their Lamb-Stuffed Eggplants with Feta Béchamel utilizes both excess broth and trim. “We braise lamb leg pieces in lamb jus to intensify flavors and get maximum utilization,” he says. “The Urfa chile and Lebanese spices are almost like a warming spice blend, but more rounded and complex.”
They add garlic confit to the spiced lamb mixture before filling the pan-fried eggplants. “It’s a way to get hours of flavor development into a dish instantly,” he says. To dial up the crave factor even more, once the lamb-stuffed eggplants are baked, they’re topped with feta béchamel and breadcrumbs, then brûléed until the cheese bubbles and browns.