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)
- 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)
- 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″.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Continue the process with the remaining 6 sheets of boiled dough. Score the sheets into squares. Sprinkle butter on top.
- 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.
48 Comments • Comments Feed
Wow! That was an endeavor. It looks absolutely delicious, especially that crusty piece on the corner. 🙂
On November 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm
Lentil Breakdown says:
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. : )
On November 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm
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!
On November 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm
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.
On November 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm
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.
On November 5, 2010 at 12:30 am
Delicious looking! Just my kind of dish.
On November 5, 2010 at 3:31 am
Love this specialty but never tried it! yours looks wonderful!
On November 5, 2010 at 3:37 am
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!
On November 5, 2010 at 4:14 am
Nuts about food says:
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.
On November 5, 2010 at 5:28 am
I love that this is made with homemade noodles. What a lovely dish of comfort food.
On November 5, 2010 at 7:25 am
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.
On November 5, 2010 at 8:10 am
Linda Eina says:
What is Turkish food anyway? Taken for the indigenous people like Greedks, Armenians, Assyrians who lived in Anatolia before the Turkish occupation in mid 1450\\\’s. One has to know the undistorted history to understand the background.
On April 3, 2021 at 9:34 pm
Linda Eina, you have noticed that most recipes in the middle Eastern countries are almost identical : baklava is made in Greece, in Syria, In Lebanon, in Turkey… This is because most of the recipes have one root : the kitchens of the ottoman sultans where of course, ideas from there or there were taken, mixed, reworked to please the tong of the sultans : the royal cookers created a new cuisine, very refined with the best products of the whole empire. People from greek origin used to work in the royal kitchens and so they learnt the recipes. Armenians had high grade jobs and they ate with the vizirs the meals prepared in the royal kitchens. Common people, armenians, jews, greeks, kurds, arabs and turks lived alltogether in harmony for years, everyone learning from each other.
Then, the diasporas have simply taken the recipes along with them ; and of course armenians say it is armenian ; kurds say it is kurd and greeks say it is greek !
Just one example : the Greeks of Greece did not have a wonderful and varied cuisine because they were poor (their cuisine was very simple) until the Greeks living in Istanbul or Izmir came with the recipes they learnt in the kitchen of the ottoman empire or by living among ottoman people. This is a reality that some greek bloggers say in their blogs.
Yes you’re right, one has to learn history the right way and not only under influenced sight.
On May 8, 2022 at 2:53 pm
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!!
On November 5, 2010 at 8:18 am
T.W. Barritt says:
So interesting! It is similar to making your own pasta. The pattern of squares looks so nice on top.
On November 5, 2010 at 9:11 am
Heavenly Housewife says:
Please let me know when you are making this so that I can visit you for dinner daaaaaahling, this looks positively delicious!
On November 5, 2010 at 9:19 am
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!
On November 5, 2010 at 10:58 am
Lea Ann says:
ohmy doesn’t this look wonderful. Could you use pastry sheets from the freezer section of the market or phylo dough?
On November 5, 2010 at 11:08 am
Looks fantastic and delicious!
On November 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm
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.
On November 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Angie's Recipes says:
This looks droolworthy! I always like to find out all the different kinds of cheesy bakes…this looks scrumptious.
On November 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm
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
On November 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Thats a lovely dish. Looks delicious.
On November 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm
joudie kalla says:
Joumana this looks amazing. I love armenian foord. have you tried a restaurant in beirut called Mayyas. You will love it…..
On November 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm
And you made your own dough – I am VERY impressed. This recipe looks like an indulgence well worth the splurge in time & calories! xo
On November 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm
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.
On November 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm
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.
On November 6, 2010 at 12:39 am
Looks appetizing and such a light texture! Thank you, will have to try this:)
On November 6, 2010 at 7:38 am
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.
On November 6, 2010 at 8:33 am
Oh, this lasagna looks SO delicious, I love the ingreidients! You’re right, it could be fun doing it with a friend..
On November 6, 2010 at 10:39 am
salut joumana ces lasagnes version libano arméniennes interpellent mon estomac !!! trop bon !!Pierre
On November 6, 2010 at 11:50 am
On November 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm
A Mille Feuille look of a lasagna,,,lots of layers and sounds yum. Some Italians also make a similar lasagna with crepes.
On November 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm
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
On November 7, 2010 at 11:16 am
Sweet Artichoke says:
Magnifique! Quel travail pour arriver à préparer ces belles lasagnes, mais le résultat en vaut la peine! Elles ont l’air succulentes!
On November 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm
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.
On November 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm
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,
On November 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm
“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 🙂
On November 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm
Joan Nova says:
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).
On November 9, 2010 at 8:12 pm
Christine @ Fresh says:
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.
On November 11, 2010 at 12:54 am
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.
On November 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm
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.
On November 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm
It is Armenian dish. Turks will dream to made it. They always like tefs take from different cultures and say it turkish.
On December 25, 2017 at 10:32 pm
Love this dish. One of the best things my grandmother made.
On April 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm
lots of great comments but nobody has said they have made this recipe!.
Turkish Armenian who cares its not based on who is the winner, Armenian is my back groundcand we had this many times a year,with our middleast friends, Canadians loved it even more.
tried this recipe and is like I remembered it
On December 1, 2017 at 3:26 am
Oh my goodness, you’ll struggle to find a more honest recipe written in English. It is simply divine & so satisfying. I first ate Su Boregi in Turkey around a decade ago and I was hooked. I use 100% 00 flour and my cheat is to run the dough “ping pong balls” through my pasta rolling machine a few times, I have one of those long thin rolling pins but I’m just not good enough with it! The sheets are so silky . It freezes well too. Definitely better warm rather than hot. Many thanks for keeping this website running as it is an inspiration to us all.
P.s It’s in the oven now, : )
On October 10, 2019 at 4:57 pm
After years of anticipation , I finally made this recipe . I had never tasted boereg before as I’m not familiar with armenian cuisine until recently (I grew up in jbeil where armenian cuisine was inexistant . The price you pay for not having armenian friends ). I used my pasta rolling machine first , then my rolling pin . The result was spectacular ! Paper thin pasta sheets . For the filling I used sheep milk cheese that is similar to feta , parsley , salt and hungarian paprika . No egg . The only problem I faced was sheets sticking together after being dipped in ice cold water ( after boiling) . But overall i’m pretty satisfied with the results for a first attempt . The next one will be very soon I believe
On August 14, 2022 at 1:07 am
Joumana Accad says:
@marlene bravo!! I applaud your efforts, as this is quite a titanic one! Enjoy and bask in your achievement! Best
On August 23, 2022 at 1:33 pm