Sou Beoreg (Armenian-Turkish cheese lasagne)

Anyone who has lived any length of time in Beirut becomes enamored sooner or later with Armenian specialties; a cousin ordered one day a dish of sou beoreg from an Armenian lady she knew who was operating a little commercial kitchen from her home.

Sou beoreg is made with sheets and sheets of a pasta-like dough and stuffed with a cheesy filling. The silkiness and tenderness of the sheets of beoreg, glistening with butter are what delight the palate; the cheese and parsley  filling  cap the pleasure of the  experience.

One could make this with boxed lasagne noodles; it just would not taste as good.

This is a dish that, if made properly, can be sublime.

Figure on spending an afternoon in the kitchen; enlist a friend and coordinate the steps. You could be rolling the dough and he (or she) could be boiling the sheets and draining them.

I followed a recipe in Anahid’s Gourmet Cookbook, one of the most popular cookbooks in Lebanon these days. (Adapted)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450 g of all-purpose flour  (3 1/2 cups); (if you can get it, use Flour 00)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly with a fork
  • 1/4 cup of water, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • For the cheese filling: 1 package of mozzarella cheese and 1 package of string cheese (can substitute ricotta)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper (or allspice)

METHOD:

  1. Soak the cheeses, cut into slices, in water in order to desalt them as much as possible. Drain the water every 20 minutes and re-soak with fresh water; the process should take about 2 hours. Taste and check if most of the saltiness is gone. Drain and dry the cheese on paper towels. Shred the cheeses, place in a bowl and mix with the eggs and the chopped parsley and some white pepper or allspice. If you cannot find string cheese, use ricotta cheese. The filling should weigh approximately 1 1/2 pounds for one large pan, about 9″X9″.

  1. Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor and add the salt. Process a few seconds and pour the eggs and water  through the feed tube. When the dough clumps together and forms a compact mass, stop the machine. If it looks too dry, add a few tablespoons of milk or half an egg. It should be firm and shiny and not sticky.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 ping-pong balls. Cover with a towel and let it rest for an hour or so. (Wait longer and a crust will form, which is unsightly).
  3. Melt the 2 sticks of butter and let the butter simmer until the froth separates from the butter. Skim it and let it sit till needed.

  1. Roll out each ping-pong ball either with a manual pasta machine or a rolling pin. It needs to be as thin as possible. Sprinkle some flour on the counter if it sticks too much. Boil a large pot of salted water, and drop the free-form sheets in there and boil for one minute or so. Drain and lay out on towels.
  2. Spray or butter the pan; start layering the sheets of beoreg, ladling a half tablespoon of butter all over each layer. Fold over the excess dough. After 6 sheets, place the cheese filling over and spread it evenly throughout.

  1. Continue the process with the remaining 6 sheets of boiled dough. Score the sheets into squares. Sprinkle butter on top.
  2. Bake immediately in a 375F (190 C) oven or cover and bake the next day. When the sheets take on a golden color throughout, the sou beoreg is ready. Serve warm fresh from the oven.

NOTE: The string cheese is sold at Middle-Eastern groceries and is made in California. Ricotta or cottage cheese can be used instead.  The butter can be mixed with oil, or replaced by margarine.



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41 Comments

  1. Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Wow! That was an endeavor. It looks absolutely delicious, especially that crusty piece on the corner. :)

  2. Posted November 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Is this the same as su boregi that I had in Turkey? Looks fabulous but time-consuming. You forgot to suggest what alcoholic beverage to imbibe in with your friend while assembling. : )

  3. Posted November 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    As Sue said above, it looks like an endeavor, but most likely one well worth it. Looks amazing, I really am interested in the idea of beoreg.

  4. Joumana
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Adair: there was a large Armenian population in Turkey in the past; that would probably explain the similarities.

    Lee Ann: a lot of people do make this dish with phyllo dough.

    joudie: I did go to Mayrig and loved it!

  5. SYLVIA
    Posted November 5, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    This savory cheese beorag says party with an Armenian accent.
    This is a sacred moment for me. If you grew up eating sou beoreg in your grandmothers house, you may get a little nostalgic when you eat this. The flavor and the texture of this recipe takes me back to my youth and feels very Armenian to me.
    The mouth watering aroma these beorag give off will make it hard for you and your family to wait for dinner.
    No Armenian menu is complete without this classic dish. look at this deliciousness.
    Skip the carb counting, this is a double Decker bus, plan on this dish being scraped clean. Joumana, I am just imagining that first bite.

  6. Posted November 5, 2010 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Delicious looking! Just my kind of dish.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Posted November 5, 2010 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Love this specialty but never tried it! yours looks wonderful!

  8. Posted November 5, 2010 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    I will have to make this for my part Armenian husband (his grandfather fled to France and married a French woman). The cheese and parsley fillling sounds so good!

  9. Posted November 5, 2010 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Did you have someone helping you roll out the dough? Or did you make this beauty all by yourself? It looks like work, but totally worth it.

  10. Posted November 5, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I love that this is made with homemade noodles. What a lovely dish of comfort food.

  11. Junie
    Posted November 5, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Su boregi is a Turkish dish, originating form the middle Anatolian part of Turkey, especially Kayseri area. The name is completely Turkish; su is water as the sheets of dough is boiled in hot water and borek is a Turkish word which covers hundreds of different pastry varieties. It is true that there are many Armenians living in Turkey and so it is natural for there to be similarities between our cuisines but this is definitely a dish of Turkish origin.

  12. Posted November 5, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    hummm!! ça me semble délicieux!! comme je fais presque de la même façon le pâte à lasagnes maison, je suis partante pour cette farce aux fromages! merci!!

  13. Posted November 5, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    So interesting! It is similar to making your own pasta. The pattern of squares looks so nice on top.

  14. Posted November 5, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Please let me know when you are making this so that I can visit you for dinner daaaaaahling, this looks positively delicious!
    *kisses* HH

  15. Posted November 5, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Homemade lasagna is the best.. the noodle texture is 900% better than store-bought.
    I can’t wait to try it…even though string cheese may be a problem!

  16. Posted November 5, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    ohmy doesn’t this look wonderful. Could you use pastry sheets from the freezer section of the market or phylo dough?

  17. Posted November 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Looks fantastic and delicious!

  18. Posted November 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I am so wanting to make this tonight! But I think I need to plan ahead!

    I love Armenian food, I would love to get my hands on that cookbook.

  19. Posted November 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    This looks droolworthy! I always like to find out all the different kinds of cheesy bakes…this looks scrumptious.

  20. Posted November 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I have a pasta machine, but I am not sure I will succeed with this recipe. It sounds delicious but it takes patience by the sound of it and I am not a patient person :-( Diane

  21. Posted November 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Thats a lovely dish. Looks delicious.

  22. Posted November 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Joumana this looks amazing. I love armenian foord. have you tried a restaurant in beirut called Mayyas. You will love it…..

  23. Posted November 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    And you made your own dough – I am VERY impressed. This recipe looks like an indulgence well worth the splurge in time & calories! xo

  24. Posted November 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Je suis admirative. Même la pâte est faite maison.
    J’ai déjà remarqué ce fromage ficelle mais j’ignorais qu’il était arménien.
    Le tout donne un résultat magnifique.
    Bon week-end et à bientôt.

  25. Posted November 6, 2010 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Joumana, Cyprus has a lot of Armenians as well and there food is fantastic. I have never heard of this but it does sound delicious.

  26. Posted November 6, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Looks appetizing and such a light texture! Thank you, will have to try this:)
    Regards,
    Zara

  27. Posted November 6, 2010 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I’m so impressed you made your own noodles, Joumana! It’s an lovely recipe…I have never cared much for red sauces with my lasagna.

  28. Posted November 6, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Oh, this lasagna looks SO delicious, I love the ingreidients! You’re right, it could be fun doing it with a friend..
    Bisous
    Ronelle

  29. Posted November 6, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    salut joumana ces lasagnes version libano arméniennes interpellent mon estomac !!! trop bon !!Pierre

  30. Posted November 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Looks delicious.

  31. Posted November 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    A Mille Feuille look of a lasagna,,,lots of layers and sounds yum. Some Italians also make a similar lasagna with crepes.

  32. Posted November 7, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Oh my gosh, this just sounds amazing. Its going on my list to make soon! I just need more time in my day. Love all the inspiration

  33. Posted November 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Magnifique! Quel travail pour arriver à préparer ces belles lasagnes, mais le résultat en vaut la peine! Elles ont l’air succulentes!

  34. Posted November 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    This looks absolutely divine. I am afraid of learning how to make this… it might be very dangerous. Your dough looks beautiful… I first thought it was store bought. Amazing! I have to check out the Armenian cookbook.

  35. Posted November 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    The first and last time I made homemade pasta was with Mom at the age of five. I’ve never tried it since. Those lasagna sheets of yours look splendidly thin and melt in your mouth smooth. I can only imagine how the whole dish would make me sing…well at least to myself…I have a terrible tune.

    Your last visit was much appreciated Joumana…you were missed ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

  36. Posted November 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    “Sublime” seems to be the right word! I have some friends in Armenia … sooner or later I’ll visit them … it’s always a good thing to know what you can ask for lunch :-)
    Ciao!

  37. Posted November 9, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know that I’d want to spend 6 hours in the kitchen…but I sure would like to try this (eating that is).

  38. Posted November 11, 2010 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting process, I’ve never tried de-salting my mozzarella. Also, I should try making lasagna sheets, I agree fresh pasta is best.

  39. Posted November 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I would definitely recommend trying this with phyllo dough, I think the crispy texture that the phyllo dough lends helps give the dish some textural interest–crunchy & creamy, I also suspect it feels a lot less heavy than this dish might with noodles. My Armenian born great-grandmother’s recipe calls for feta, monterey jack and cottage cheese, an egg or two to bind and parsley–much less labor intensive and still delicious. Check out Sonia Uvezian’s recipe from The Cuisine of Armenia, it is similar to my grandma’s.

  40. Niyal
    Posted November 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    It looks delicious. But sorry to say so, this is a Turkish borek. In Turkish it is called Su Boregi. Su means water. As in the recepie the dough is boiled in water.

  41. Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Love this dish. One of the best things my grandmother made.

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