Sujuk: Traditional Turkish Dry Fermented Sausage

Sujuk (or sucuk) is an important part of Turkish cuisine and it is prepared by mixing minced meat and oil with salt and various spices and putting them in a cover, the cover can be made from natural or artificial supplies. It needs to be prepared in specific environments, and the preparing process needs to be sterile. Besides the preparation environment, there are crucial points to prepare good sujuk, hence you need to know well how your sujuk is made before eating it for the best taste.

Even though sujuk is sometimes referred to as sausage or fermented sausage, those names are not commonly used in Turkey, where are accepted as sujuk’s native country, but indeed, it is classified as a type of sausage. It is a typical product that represents Turkish people’s taste very well, and it is a very popular food in Turkey. And it is not only famous in Turkey, but this Turkish deliciousness is also known all around the word with the same or a different name. In Turkey, it is commonly consumed at breakfasts but there are so many more ways to consume sujuk.

What is Sujuk?

Sujuk is a product that is derived from minced meat (typically beef or mutton) and oil, salt, spices, and other additives (if you are not doing it by yourself). This mixture can be either put into the gut of some animals or other artificially made covers for sujuk. The most important spices used while making sujuk are black pepper powder, cumin, red pepper powder. Additionally, garlic is another important ingredient for sujuk. There are different kinds of sujuks according to the meat used and preparation method.

Types of Sujuk

Kangal Sujuk

Kangal sujuk is the most popular sujuk type in Turkey. The filling that is made from mince and spices, put into an animal’s intestines. Later, both ends of the intestines are twilled and tied down with a rope. This technique is being used for many years.

Sujuk with egg
Kangal sujuk

Baton Sujuk

Baton sujuk is basically the same as kangal sujuk, only the shape of them is different.

Parmak Sujuk

Parmak means finger in Turkish and this type of sujuk gets its name from its shape, as you may guess, it is shaped like a finger. It is very popular in the Balıkesir region and it is preferred to be eaten at the barbecue. It is typically made with beef or mutton. It is known for being too spicy, spicy food lovers adore parmak sujuk but if you are not used to consuming spicy foods, this one is not recommended for you.

Finger Sujuk
Parmak sujuk

Varyanta Sujuk

This type of sujuk has different kinds of spices that are not present in any other sujuk types. Varyanta sujuk is very popular in the Kayseri region, which is an important city for sujuk and sujuk related goods production.

Etymology, origin, and history of the sujuk

The word sujuk (in Turkish, it is called “sucuk”) comes from the Persian word zicak, or ziçak. Zicak means stuffed mumbar (as in mumbar sujuk), or some sort of “intestines wrap”. The root of this Persian word is “ziç”, which refers to stretching or pulling something, strip, ribbon.

There is no precise information about how, when, and by who sujuk was invented. But it has been always said that sujuk was first invented in Kayseri, a city in Turkey which is in the central Anatolia region. Also, there are different stories about how sujuk was first invented. 

One of the stories about how was sujuk invented is about the field-hands in Anatolia. It has been said that those workers were not able to find meat to eat often, so they needed to come up with a solution to keep the meat they have fresh and delicious. Additionally, because of the heat and moisture in the fields, it becomes nearly impossible to store meat. This is why they put plenty of spices, to not let it spoil too soon. But the seasoned meat still needed to not get in contact with air to keep its freshness even longer, hence they came up with the idea to put the mince in an animal’s intestines. Cleaned and dried intestines helped to keep mince fresh for a long time.

Even though Kayseri is accepted as the starting point for sujuk, there is an ongoing debate between Kayseri and Afyonkarahisar about sujuk belongs to who.

Sujuk in Turkish cuisine

Sujuk is an indispensable food in Turkey, especially for meat lovers. Such that some events are interconnected with sujuk, in other words, sujuk is a crucial component of some events. It is consumed in many ways, in various recipes or just plain. As I mentioned earlier, sujuk is usually preferred at breakfast, but it is consumed on many other occasions, and according to the context of which sujuk is eaten, the beverages, appetizers also change. The following are some of the most popular dish ideas for sujuk.

Egg with sujuk

In many households in Turkey, if you randomly choose a number of houses and ask them what they are having for breakfast on a Sunday, some of them will most probably have an egg with sujuk. It is quite a simple yet delicious meal to have. First, sujuk needs to be cooked in a pan (oil is not necessary since sujuk itself has oil in it), and then, the eggs need to be put. Eggs could be in any way you want, scrambled, omelet, or sunny side up. But typically, egg with sujuk is made with a sunny side up style, in rare or medium-cooked eggs. Sujuk in breakfast is generally eaten with Turkish tea or fruit juice.

Sucuklu Yumurta
Egg with sujuk

Sujuk between bread

Sujuk with bread is another important dish that you can prepare with sujuk, and it is even more simple to do than an egg with sujuk. You just need to cook the sujuks in a pan, or a barbecue and you put it in a bread-like sandwich, and that is it. No other ingredients are put into sujuk between bread. Actually, this dish is called “sucuk ekmek”, and if I directly translate it, it would be “sujuk bread”. Sujuk bread is usually preferred in cold weather, especially when it snows. It is popular street food in Turkey. You can see sujuk bread stands at 3 AM since it is a popular food to eat after late-night drinking. Unlike egg with sujuk, sujuk bread is preferred to be eaten with ayran, which is a salty drink that is special to Turkey, made with yogurt. Very healthy!

Sujuk Bread
Sujuk-Bread

Sujuk pizza

Of course, sujuk was needed to be put into different types of foods. Sujuk Pizza is a very popular pizza type in Turkey, and besides preparing at home, you can find sujuk pizza in most of the famous pizza chains in Turkey. The most basic type of sujuk pizza is made only with tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, and sujuk. Yet there are various creative recipes that sujuk pizza can be prepared.

Haricot bean(kuru fasulye) with sujuk

Haricot bean is a dish that is very famous in Turkey. It is made with dried beans, and according to preference meat or olive oil can be added. But there is another alternative way to do it: with sujuk. This dish is usually made with kangal sujuk. And due to the nature of the haricot bean meal in Turkey, it is typically served with rice.

Haricot Bean with Sujuk
Haricot Bean with Sujuk

Sujuk pastries

Sujuk is also put in pastries, especially in stores that sell bakery products, you can find various pastries with sujuk filling. In those stores, you may also find tiny pizzas with sujuks on them. Of course, there is a simit (Turkish bagel) with sujuk as well, and even cheese is put into those Turkish bagels. Pastries that include sujuk are often preferred to be eaten at breakfast, but they can be also consumed as a snack. Another famous Turkish dish, börek, can also be made with sujuk filling. Pastries that have sujuk in them are often preferred to be eaten with Turkish tea.

Sujuk as an appetizer

Besides sujuk’s dexterity to be able to be eaten in breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it can also be served and eaten as an appetizer. Sometimes, just raw plain sujuk is served as an appetizer. It is also served cooked in tiny slices.

How is sujuk made?

The preparation steps are crucial in the making process of sujuk. Sujuk meat should be made from the meat that has passed the “rigor mortis” phase. Rigor mortis refers to cadaveric rigidity. The animal(generally beef or lamb) that the meat is taken from should not be too old or too young, it needs to be some age in the middle. This is due to the features of the too old and too young animals’ structures are not suitable for making sujuk. Excessive fats, connective tissues, and the nerves of the meat must be left out from it. Additionally, the pH level of the meat is very important as well. It should be somewhere between 5.4 and 5.8. The oils used in the preparation of sujuk must be derived from animal fat.

As the mince is prepared, all of the ingredients must be mixed properly. Later, it can be put into the meat grinder. There are various kinds of meat grinders available, but the type of meat grinder is not so important, any of them would work just fine. The heat in the environment is also crucial in all of these steps. After the mince filling is ready, it needs to be put into the intestines or artificially made covers for sujuk. The animal intestines that is used as a cover is typically from cattle or lambs. The artificial covers could be made from plastic or fibrous. 

The right way to cook sujuk is also important once you bought it or prepared it yourself. You should be careful about the time you cooked the sujuk. If it cooks too much or too little, it will taste bad. If you are cooking sujuk in a pan, you need to cook each side for approximately 10 seconds. If sujuk is overcooked, it will taste bitter and it will be quite rigid.

Additionally, there are two types of sujuks according to how it is done.

Fermented sujuk

If a package of sujuk says “fermented”, this means that after putting it in the intestines or an artificial cover, it needs to be rested for at least 30 days. Due to this waiting process, it is called fermented sujuk since the reason for waiting is for sujuk’s fermentation with spices and oil to happen. It is the original way to make sujuk, and it is known that the fermented sujuk is the best type of sujuk. There are some factors that have an effect on the fermented sujuk, these factors are named internal factors and external factors.

External factors can be basically described as factors about the environment that the sujuk is made. relative humidity, temperature, and air velocity influence the taste and the quality of sujuk. Those factors and the influence they have in sujuk must be acknowledged very well before any attempt to prepare fermented sujuk. Internal factors are about the ingredients in and out (cover) of the sujuk. These are the salt and oil ratio, the degree of fragmentation of the meat, and the type of the sujuk.

Heat-treated sujuk

Heat-treated sujuk is no different from the fermented sujuk except for the waiting process. It gets ready in a short amount of time like 2 days. It gets ready this early because sujuk exposes to heat and moisture in order to be done quickly. Actually, it is nearly impossible to differentiate the heat-treated sujuks taste from fermented sujuks taste, but according to the professionals, fermented sujuk is a lot healthier than heat-treated sujuk. Salmonella bacteria preserve the presence of it in the heat-treated sujuk due to the moisture and heat.

How to make sujuk at home?

If you want to try doing sujuk at your home, do not let those processes scare you because it is easier than it sounds. You will need ground beef and minced lamb, garlic, salt, red pepper powder, spicy red pepper powder, cumin, allspice, black pepper powder, and dried calf intestines. You can find dried calf intestines in any butcher. If you are not sure about its cleanness, you may want to let the dried calf intestines in vinegar for a couple of minutes before starting to make sujuk. And if you do not want to use dried calf intestines, you can use plastic wrap or the artificial sujuk covers that were mentioned before in this article. But keep in mind that the taste will be different if you do it in intestines or plastic wraps.

You need to mix all of these ingredients in a cup and knead them very well for at least 25 minutes. After you are done kneading, you need to cover the cup with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a day. After waiting for a day, you need to put them in a meat grinder but if you do not have a meat grinder, you can use another tool for that process. And then, you need to knead those minced meats for another 25 minutes. Later, put them in your cover or the intestines using a pipe. Swirl and tie-down both ends of the intestines or the sujuk cover. Then it is just left to leave them to dry out. This time may change according to the weather in which you are letting them dry. If it’s too hot and too sunny, they may be ready in 3 days but if it is colder, it may take longer than a week. After it is done, take off the coverings and enjoy.

Sujuk in other cuisines

Even though sujuk is originated in Turkey, different cultures and cuisines have a place for sujuk. As mentioned before about the raw sujuk being served as an appetizer, this application is quite popular in Bulgaria. Sujuk is called as “sudzhuk” in Bulgaria, “suxhuk” in Albania, and “Suǰux” in Armenia. Those all are nearly identical to the Turkish sujuk, but every food is a little bit better in its hometown.

Other types of Sujuk

Besides sujuk that is characterized by the spiced mince in the intestines, there are different foods that are named sujuk due to their similarity to sujuks described above; but only in terms of preparing process and shape.

Nut sujuk

This is a kind of dessert in which various nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios are lined in a rope, later it is dipped into sugar syrup or grape must.

Walnut Sujuk
Walnut Sujuk

Mumbar sujuk

Mumbar sujuk, commonly known as just mumbar, is a food that is special to the Adana region. It is made of rice in addition to beef and mutton mince, with various spices and garlic. And like other sujuks, this filling is put into the intestines. Mumbar sujuk needs to be handmade, there is no other way to prepare it.

Mumbar

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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