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I guess it has been almost 20 years since I worked at Zorba's restaurant in Fort Worth. Zorba's had the BEST gyros I have ever had. Zorba's in the North Hills Mall is gone now. The North Hills Mall is even gone now. But I think I have a little treasure from the past that you are going to love. Gyros that you get at a stand or restaurant usually have the same basic ingredients. Pita bread, gyro meat (probably a cone from Kronos), onions, and tomatoes. This is all turned into an unbelievable delicacy with a strange condiment called "tzatziki sauce." There are lots of tzatziki sauce recipes on the Internet. But they don't quite match the creaminess of the tzatziki from Zorba's. I also see tzatziki sauce recipes with dill, mint, lemon juice, and other strange things in them. None of that was in Zorba's tzatziki. Now, I have to admit that they never showed me how to make the tzatziki. That was all done by Tula in the back kitchen. Tzatziki was a complete mystery to me the whole time I worked there. But I did happen to see the two things that made their tzatziki so special. I remembered that one of the ingredients was sour cream. Another one of the ingredients was something that sounded similar to sour cream, but it was different. It was something I had never heard of before. Years later, I kept thinking "what was that other ingredient? Sour...something?" Now that we have the Internet, I am able to put together the last piece of the puzzle. It was not "sour...something." It was "something...cream." It was, in fact, yogurt cream. Now I can give you the basic ingredients so that you can make this simple and extraordinary tzatziki sauce.
- First, we will make the yogurt cream.
- Put a coffee filter in a strainer. Put the strainer into a bowl to catch the liquids that run off from the yogurt. Next, put the one cup of plain yogurt into the coffee filter. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. This will drain off liquids from the yogurt and make it thicker with a consistency like sour cream. You can let it drain up to 24 hours if you wish, but overnight will be okay.
- The next day, peel a cucumber (I use a potato peeler). Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise. Take a spoon and scrape out the seedy portion in the middle. Shred the cucumber on a cheese shredder or using the shredding attachment in your food processor.
- Take 1/3 cup of shredded cucumber and squeeze out the juice into a separate bowl.
- Remove the thickened yogurt from the coffee filter and place in a mixing bowl. Add the sour cream, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, shredded cucumber and cucumber juice.
- Mix well then cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Easily one of the best Tzatziki's I've ever tasted. I lived in Germany and had many different Doner Kebaps with just as many different tzatziki's. This is easy to make and has the perfect flavor. If in a hurry I can use plain yogurt thrown onto a cheesecloth dishtowel and hold it over the sink and gently squeeze the moisture out. I then use a spoon to scrape it off and put into my mixing bowl. I also just use a grater and grate the cuke into it to save time. I've also made it when short on s. cream and it was pretty forgiving as long as some was in it to mellow out the yogurt twang. Top off with red pepper flakes or sprinkles for a Turkish doner/gyro.
Just want to inject a note: If you think FAGE brand is great, try Stonyfield Farm's OIKOS Greek yogurt---it is fantastic--you'll almost think it's sour cream...
I have been making my own tzatziki sauce for a while. Today I just bought "FAGE" yogurt in my regular grocery store. I says "Greek style strained yogurt" on the label. It is plain yogurt already strained!!! I just tasted it and it tastes great. I was able to whip up some sauce without waiting for it to drain overnight.