The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


A Foodie’s Guide to Butchers in Cairo

A Foodie’s Guide to Butchers in Cairo
    written by
    Wesam Masoud

    Cairo’s vegetarians are both
    lucky and unlucky: while they are not subject to the rigors of buying meat from
    a reputable source, they are also woefully unaware of the pleasures that a nice
    rib eye steak can bring. So, to any vegetarians reading this; enjoy your tofu

    To the rest of the
    carnivorous public, let’s all say these words in unison: Not all butchers are
    created equal. Going to a butcher’s shop is not glamorous and, in most cases,
    not hygienic. And let’s not get started on the quality of meat. There is a
    reason most high-end restaurants rely on imported beef, and it can be summed up
    into two words: quality and consistency.

    That’s what we want from our
    butcher, isn’t it? To consistently rely on the quality cuts of beef we need,
    and to talk to a butcher that knows not only how to expertly trim a beef joint
    or silverside roast; but also how best to cook each cut of beef perfectly. Some
    cuts are for braising for long periods of time in a stock. Others are designed
    by nature to be prepared in a more primal fashion; by grilling over an open
    flame. Never mind the cowboys– where have all the meat men gone?

    Heliopolis: El Gamaa Square is ground zero for
    most Heliopolitans looking to buy quality beef. Some of these butchers have
    been around for decades; and their craft, having been handed down from one
    generation to the next, is second to none. However, the hygiene may not be up
    to the supermarket chill-room standard some of us are used to. Be sure to go to
    Gazaret Medan El Gamea on Demeshk Street. The earlier you go the better, since
    then you have a better shot at getting beef cuts that are in higher demand;
    like the tenderloin. Gazaret El Naqib is recommended not only for their
    well-butchered meat, but also for their beef and calf’s liver; which must be
    ordered a day in advance.

    Nasr City: El Samra has
    been serving Nasr City for over twenty years, and also carries chicken and
    lamb. They will even make shish kabab and kofta skewers for you, ready to be
    put on the grill; just call and reserve beforehand. If you don’t know the name
    of the cut in Arabic, the head butcher will almost definitely know it– or just
    point to one of the huge English and French posters of beef cuts on the walls
    and he’ll educate you.

    has become a recent local favourite, as evidenced by the crowds
    packed into the tiny storefront every night. The butchers may not be as
    friendly as those at El Samra, but their beef is undeniably good. A word to the
    wise: pay close attention as they prepare your order; since they do have a few
    tricks up their sleeves to make you pay more.

    Zamalek: There are three butchers on 26th of
    July Street alone; Lohoum Qased Kareem Wahbe, Gazaret El
    and finally Gazaret Saeed El Sheikh. All three provide a home delivery
    service. As with any butcher, you should first make a personal appearance
    before relying on home delivery– that way, the butchers know your face and
    tastes, and you can control the trimming of your steaks at the source.

    All over Cairo: Good quality beef can be found at
    Metro Markets all over the Capital. In addition to beef and veal, they also
    carry chicken, duck and even rabbit. The drawback is that there are certain
    cuts of beef you cannot get unless you specifically ask for them in person, and
    pick it up the next day. If you happen to want some beef or chicken bones to
    make your own stocks; once again, you’re out of luck. However, Metro is perfect
    for clean and decent cuts of beef.

    Carrefour in Maadi City Centre, Spinney’s
    in Nasr City and Hyper 1 in 6th October all offer their own in-house
    butchery section; and their meat quality may pleasantly surprise you. Once
    again, they only offer the more popular cuts of beef and may not be able to
    accommodate any special requests you may have.

    Finally, Gourmet Egypt
    is a sort of Shangri-La for prestige ingredients. Their selection of Australian
    beef fits in perfectly with that image. Bring extra cash and bear in mind that
    what you see is what you get. Plus, the beef sold at Gourmet Egypt has been
    flash-frozen and shipped to Egypt; so observe safe and effective defrosting
    techniques (read: no microwaves) before cooking it.