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PROTOCOL FOR FISH AND FISH RESTAURANT IN ISTANBUL

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ISTANBUL FISH RESTAURANTS feb. 2012

1. Ordering Meze (starters) :
cold ones : a. pick from tray or point at the plate on tray. what you see is the serving size.
b. go to the starter case and point at the large dish, they will put a small portion on serving dish.

hot ones : order separately for kalamar (fried kalamari dipped in batter)
midye (fried mussels dipped in batter
karides guvec(h) (shrimp in a pot)
patates (chips/french fries)
borek (cheese or meat pstry)
2. Ordering Fish :

General Info :
- get used to your fish looking at you from your plate. Fish, unless on skewers or fileted will be served whole, including the head, as long as it is the correct size for a portion or smaller, thus more than one making up a portion. turbot, john dory, sea bass have tasty cheek meat.

Always flip open the single whole fish by slipping your knife horizontally from head to tail at the middle of the neck or the tummy and lifting one half up. You can then remove the middle large bone and the back and tummy bones before you start digging in. Otherwise, you will be wasting a great deal of good meat mized with the bones.

Sea Bass and Sea Bream (Levrek and Cipura) Almost all sea bass and sea bream, no matter what size will be farmed. Therefore it makes good sense to ask for the cheaper smaller ones which are usually one fish per person. At some restaurants you can get levrek in cooking paper with onion and tomatoes or wrapped in sea salt. Otherwise both levrek and cipura are best grilled. Filets of larger Levrek are also good fried and a very large one may be steamed.with onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.
- January-May is turbot season. This is an expensive fish but delicious. Most people prefer it lightly battered and fried but it is also good grilled. You should suck at the bones including the head bones as there is lots of good meat around them. Do not be shy about using fingers.
- Small red mullet is edible but the larger grey ones should not be eaten.
The red mullet is eaten fried but if not done properly will soak up grease and will also smell.
Blue Fish. This is the undisputable prince of all Bosphorus fish. Its taste changes as it moves to the Mediterranean and it is definitely very different from what you get in Nort Atlantic, i.e. Boston. This year the harvest was poor. prices are up. Season is almost over in February. Only to be grilled.
Bonito : a fatty small tuna family fish. can be excellent when young and small grilled. As it gains fat and grows, it becomes heavier. Ate it served with a honey dressing at a Michelin star restaurant in Paris but still was not very happy.
Horse Mackerel : The savior of the poor and the retired in istanbul. That is what everyone catches from bridges and everywhere on the coastline of the city. Terrific when fried fresh with light batter and not larger than 5' or 13cm.
Make sure you remove the back bones with a flip of you thumb and forefinger and the single large tummy bone before holding tail and head with both hands and eating around the middle bone. The heads of the smallest ones and the tails of all are also cruncy tasty (anyone for soft-shelled crab?)
Sardines : Best area is Canakkale (dardannelles) Best eaten grilled warapped in wine leaves.
Anchovy : The staple of the Black Sea . Cooked many different ways, including with rice. Usually fried with corn meal batter.
Sole and plaice : very international. Cooked as in Europe or America
Grouper (lagos) : Usually large ones are cut up and grilled on a skewer. Sometimes other fish (i.e. akya, or even shark) may be served as grouper. Usually expensive because rare.
John Dory: rare. can be steamed, fried, sauteed or grilled depending on size and season.
You should negotiate the price of the more expensive or rare fish per kilo at almost any restaurant in Istanbul. especially when the store price of turbot is 80-100TL/kilo, you do not want the risk of the restaurant charging you 300TL/kilo.
Horse mackerel, anchovy, sea bass, sea bream prices are usually not negotiated, since these are the lower end prices., unless they try to sell you salt covered sea bass or steamed sea bass.
At many restaurants, the fish are in a glass case and you point and ask the price. Make sure that the price is per kilo or per portion. Otherwise what you thought was per kilo could end up per small portion and it will have been too late.

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