Expat Cravings: Spicy Ranch Dressing

Posted on November 14, 2011


Turks don’t do sauce.  Unless you count mayonnaise, and I don’t.  As an American, moreover, as a former American waitress, I know how much we love sauce.  If you are a server in America, be prepared to fill millions of ramekins with two or three sauces for just one salad ‘cause I like to dip.  I’m a dipper’.  Be prepared to take thousands of plates of pasta back to the kitchen ‘cause I like my pasta and my ladies extra

All this extra sauce seems ridiculous because everything we eat comes with sauce.  Pizza with garlic and tomato sauce.  Steaks and burgers with A1 and
Worcestershire.  ‘Welcome to Taco Bell.  Would you like mild, hot, or fire sauce?’ Salsa, Guac, Queso.  Chicken fingers, wings, barbecue with blue cheese, hot sauce, and yet more barbecue sauce.  Sandwiches with aioli, mustard, honey mustard, spicy mustard, chipotle, ranch, horseradish.  Eatin’ fish? Tartar sauce.  Desert?  Chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, butterscotch, a drizzle of icing.  And Breakfast! Waffles, pancakes, french toast with  syrup—not just Maple.  Blackberry, blueberry,
strawberry for the table, please.  Try to think of something we eat without sauce!

Why so much sauce?  Because it’s so good, and I miss it so bad!

As I stated before, Turks don’t share our obsession with sauces.  Salads in Turkey are dressed with a little olive  oil, lemon and a dash of vinegar.  You can actually taste the
lettuce.  I never order pastas at restaurants because I know what I will see:  A pasty bowl full of unadorned carbs. If you cover it in sauce, you will convince yourself you’re getting a full serving of vegetables.  What about grocery stores, you ask.  The label vs. the contents never matches your memory of the product.  It’s best not to
disappoint yourself.

I have been dry for almost 3 years now.  I had been adapting to a life of saucelessness until a week ago.  Stephen and I went to American football night at a friend’s house.  There was food, and one lady had attempted to make ranch dressing.  It was pretty much yogurt except for one spice that gave it the essence of ranch.  Thus began my mission to make Spicy Ranch Dressing.  (‘cause I like my ranch spicy.)

Problem:  To make a ranch dressing, one needs buttermilk or sour cream.   No buttermilk in Turkey, and I’m not about to pay 10 lira for a jar of ‘sour cream’ whenever I want to make ranch dressing.  Ya got that expats? Let’s keep it economic.  After brainstorming with my friend Carolina, I decided to try substituting Labneh for
sour cream/buttermilk.  What is Labneh?  I don’t know, but it’s 2 lira at any grocery store.

This is the original recipe and the Turkish modifications:

Spicy Ranch Dressing

1/4 cup mayo—————————————————————-okay, no problem

1/4 cup sour cream—————————————————————-sub Labneh

1 Tbsp milk—————————————————————————sub Ayran

2 tsp minced tomato——————————————————————-no prob

1 and 1/2 tsp white vinegar———–I used rice vinegar, or you can just forget about it

1 tsp jalapeno——you can buy the expensive can or just sub aci biber (spicy peppers)

1 tsp minced onion———————————– I add 1 Tbsp minced fresh red onion

1/4 tsp dried parsley——————-this is called kuru feslğen, easy to find in packets

1/4 tsp Tabasco————–this is pretty cheap to buy nowadays, any hot sauce is fine

1/8 tsp salt——————————————————————————no prob

1/8 tsp dried dill———————————-no dried dill, get the fresh dereotu (dill)

1/8 tsp paprika————————————————————————-no prob

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper————————————nope, use acı biber, easy to find

1/8 tsp cumin—————————————————————————no prob

1/8 tsp chili powder———————————————–not here, as far as I know

dash of garlic powder———-It’s a little expensive, so you can just mince fresh garlic

dash of black pepper——————————————————————-no prob

( If you are using the mix of mayo, labneh, and ayran, add a dash of lemon juice for acidity.)  Mix all the ingredients together and let it chill for at least 30 minutes.  I have added photos of the ingredients below.  Enjoy.