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Feb 27th, 2012, 03:08 AM
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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.
otherchelebi is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Thanx for this and all your other helpful posts..So excited for my trip to Greece and Turkey in May/June..any particular fish "in season" at that time?
not_enuf_vaca is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 08:26 AM
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Sometime beginning to mid June, the ban on commercial fishing starts, and continues till September 1.

May is still good for turbot and is also sardine season.

Sea bass and sea bream are available always. I prefer the bass to the bream. Usually priced the same.

You may also be able to find John Dory or Saint Pierre. (ugly brown fish of about 12" averasge size with one or two largish brown spots near the head.
otherchelebi is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 09:33 AM
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I saw a lot of mackerel sold in fish sandwiches (street food) in Istanbul and rouget (probably wild) on the coast (sold by weight and very expensive).
Michael is online now  
Feb 27th, 2012, 10:16 AM
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Really enjoyed one of those grilled mackerel sandwiches I bought from a stand near the Galata Bridge.

We were there in May and also enjoyed the turbot, sardines, horse mackerel and the fried mussels -- actually, pretty much every fish we sampled!
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Feb 27th, 2012, 10:33 AM
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YUM - I'm getting hungry!
not_enuf_vaca is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 05:43 PM
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What a gift you have given every Fodorite with this wonderful post, otherchelebi - thank you so much!

One question: After being presented with a whole fish, is it possible to ask the server to fillet it?
kja is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 07:08 PM
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Thanks for this very handy info. Included in my notes for the return journey to Turkey hopefully in the not too different future.
worldinabag is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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Other-you made fish so complicated I want a kebop.

And you need a very ling fishing pole to catch anything from your balcony.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 11:10 PM
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Adu, age has its drawbacks. You cannot handle anything long or for very long after a certain age, including fishing rods or lines. The Bosphorus used to be so much closer to our balcony when I was younger.

kja, you can of'course ask the waiter to filet the fish for you, if you trust him to do a good job, on the basis of how efficient he has been in serving you and how experienced he looks. The worst that can happen is that you will lose some of the meat to his coarse hands which you may have lost to your own inexperience anyway. (I would not try it on the small horse mackerel or red mullet or rouget. LOL)

Thank you all for your appreciation. These notes, comments and compliments keep me going. They also do good work as examples to show to my wife and tell her that at least some people appreciate me. - (she says, "they are not married to you.")
otherchelebi is offline  
Jun 11th, 2016, 12:11 PM
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Thanks for linking to this. I will be in Istanbul briefly in early September. Is it just turbot that will be out of season?
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 12th, 2016, 03:51 AM
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Early September will be start of turbot and possibly blue fish.

You will also get the smaller horse mackerel which is usually preferable (4-5 inches.)

Local Turkish mackerel may have all but disappeared. If you are lucky September is the month for it also.

usually, the small amount of local mackerel is sun-dried and sold under the name "Cheerose" (English spelling) Ciroz in Turkish.
They may also have the horse mackerel, that is Istavrit, sun dried and sold as ciroz, but look for the longer and tougher pieces of the mackerel.

The fish sandwiches are made with imported frozen Atlantic mackerel. So make sure they are grilled well and eat it with onions. First for hygiene and second for taste.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jun 12th, 2016, 06:19 AM
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"First for hygiene and second for taste." - Lol!

Thanks again.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 12th, 2016, 01:13 PM
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Sorry, big mistake.

Wrote turbot instead of bonito. (too many similar letters)

My mind was busy with trying to find simple but acceptable lodging for a short night stay in Port Angeles, WA
otherchelebi is offline  
Jun 12th, 2016, 01:47 PM
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Thanks for the correction. Good luck - I'm in the middle of booking a bunch of hotels for Japan...
thursdaysd is offline  

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