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Soutzoukakia – Greek Smyrna Meatballs in Sauce

Soutzoukakia (smyrneika/politika) (Greek: σουτζουκάκια (σμυρνέικα/πολίτικα)) or İzmir köfte is a Greek and Turkish dish of spicy oblong kofte with cumin, cinnamon, and garlic served in tomato sauce.

Soutzoukakia are generally served with pilaf or mashed potatoes. This dish was brought to Greece by refugees from Asia Minor.

The meatballs are made with minced meat (usually beef, or a mixture of beef and pork), bread crumbs, egg, garlic, and parsley, and generously spiced with cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. They are floured before being fried in olive oil. The tomato sauce has tomato, wine, onion, garlic, a bayleaf, salt and pepper, and olive oil.

Name

The Turkish name İzmir köfte straightforwardly means köfte from İzmir (the former Smyrna).

The Greek name σουτζουκάκια σμυρνέικα/πολίτικα literally means spicy little sausages (Turkish sucuk + Greek diminutive -άκι) from Smyrna/Constantinople. Soutzoukakia can sometimes refer to the same cylindrical meatballs when grilled (like kofte kebab) rather than served in sauce. The word sucuk is not used in Turkish for either dish.

Soutzoukakia – Greek Smyrna Meatballs in Sauce
The word Soutzoukaki comes from the Turkish "soutzouk" or sausage. These meatballs are shaped like little kebabs. The are lightly fried and then bathed in a tomato sauce. They hail from Smyrni or modern day Izmir, and the spices are more Turkish than Greek, however they have been adopted by most Greeks as a traditional favourite.
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 600 g beef mince
  • ¼ cup olive oil for frying
  • 1 large can (800 g) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Instructions
  1. Pour water over bread and soak for 10 minutes then mash with a fork. Add garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, all the cumin, oregano and egg. Add the meat and mix until well combined.
  2. Shape into 18-20 oblong meatballs (the size doesn’t matter really, it’s just a tradition.) Heat olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Fry the meatballs on all sides until brown. Remove them meatballs to a plate.
  3. Add tomatoes, butter, remaining salt and pepper, and sugar to the pan. Stir to incorporate leftover oil. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the sausages and cook over low heat for another 15 minutes. Serve hot alongside rice, potatoes or pasta.

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