Pacanga Boregi – Fried Pastry With Pastrami and Kashar

As a dance, pachanga has been described as “a happy-go-lucky dance” of Cuban origin. There is also a borek named pacanga -pronounced “pachanga”- in Turkish cuisine. I don’t know if or how the two are related in any way. What I know is this crispy borek recipe is a perfect appetizer. Once you have access to the ingredients, it’s fairly easy to make.

Pastrami (pastirma – “pressed”) was obviously brought by the Turkic tribes from the Asian steppes. Apparently Turkish horse rider men would carry the pastrami between their leg and the horse’s back and this way the meat would be cured. You can substitute this with beef prosciutto as well.

Kashar cheese is one of the most consumed cheeses in Turkey and it is a semi-hard cheese produced by heating and stretching the curd. It is classified as fresh and mature in terms of ripening level. Its taste is somewhere in between sweet provolone and cow’s milk caciocavallo, the latter is also a commonly used ingredient in Turkish cuisine. I heard that 1 kg of fresh kashar cheese is produced from 12 liters of cow’s milk in average. You can easily find this type of cheese in Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Georgian etc. shops or substitute with mozzarella, if not available.

As for making Pacanga Boregi, here goes the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 16 pieces):

2 store-bought pastry sheets, around 300-400 g (try Turkish grocery stores, they usually sell these in vacuum packs of 5-6 sheets),

200 g of grated Kashar cheese,

16-18 slices of Turkish pastrami,

1 egg,

1/2 cup of milk,

1 cup of corn flour,

2 cups of sunflower oil,

Divide each pastry sheet into four quarters, then to eight pie-shaped pieces. Put one slice of pastrami and 2 tablespoons of grated cheese on the wide end of these pastry pieces. Pull up the sides and roll. Wet the narrow tip of pastry with water to make sure it sticks well and the roll keeps intact during frying. In a bowl crack an egg and beat it well with milk. Soak each pastry roll into this batter and then cover with corn flour. Heat sunflower oil in a wide pan on medium-high heat and fry each borek on both sides. Remove from the pan when the boreks turn red and crispy and place on kitchen towel to rid excess oil. Serve warm with cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley leaves. Bon appetit. Oh, by the way, please let me know if you find out about the etymology of the word “pacanga” (pachanga) and why on earth this borek got that name.

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