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Sumac Powder Substitute

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I was recently given a recipe for a Turkish-style flatbread whose meat-based topping includes a few tablespoons of "Turkish Sumac Powder".

 

Trouble is in my youth I was identified as having a sumac contact allergy and strongly advised to avoid touching the plant. Though many years have passed, I'm understandably reluctant to put it in my mouth.

 

Is there a reasonable substitute? I was told it had a citrus flavor, but I'm guessing that lemon zest might be a bit too characteristic.

 

Another person told me that Turkish sumac was not the same as the sumac that grows here in North America and that I needn't worry. I'm a tad dubious to check this out on myself.

 

Ideas?

post #2 of 4
You were likely allergic to urushiol--poison sumac. Most people are.

But lemon zest and paprika will do as substitutes. Use equal amount zest as sumac plus about 1/3 amount paprika
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks, phatch for your suggestion.

 

Actually, I am (or was) allergic to "ordinary" sumac, of which there are about three dozen species, I'm well aware of so-called poison sumac, with its white (not the usual red) berries. Currently, it isn't even classified in the same genus (Rhus) as all those other sumacs.  

 

Since my allergy was  on contact, diagnosed many decades ago, I may have outgrown it, but have been reluctant to try. Putting some down my throat as an experiment seemed...ah...reckless.

 

Middle Eastern (and I presume "Turkish") sumac has recently been moved to yet another genus, but I don't know how much difference that makes. It's the sort of discussion that thrills taxonomists, especially the ones who favor DNA over structural distinctions.  My long past exposure was to one or more of the ones found in the United States.

 

What I would actually get in a bottle labelled "Turkish Sumac" is debatable anyway. I've encountered dubiously branded spices in the past. 

 

Thanks again. I'll try your suggested mix.

post #4 of 4

Sumac is one of my favorite seasonings.  I use sour and lemon as a seasoning a lot because I'm on a sodium restriction. 

 

I love the lemon aspect, but that it stores so well as a dry ingredient. It offers lots of readily soluble red color which can impart an appealing aspect in rubs and such.  Achiote/annato, another agent mostly used for coloring seems to be activated by Sumac. In only one book I've read, Jane Butel's Southwestern Grill, she explains the need for acid to activate the subtle flavor of Achiote. I suspect Sumac is acidic enough to do so and I enjoy pairing them in barbecue rubs. 

 

Sumac is an important ingrdient in red za'atar as well, probably part of that bread topping already. If you buy za'atar, check to see if it lists sumac as in ingredient where you're potentially allergic. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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