TuesdayFiled under Reviews (Eats)
“No hamsi, no money.” Mert Kanal hoses down empty Styrofoam containers and surveys the leftover catch in his market in Sinop, on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. The gulls squawk, fighting over scraps on the dock while fishermen tidy their nets for another night of fishing. The hamsi, or anchovies, are gone for the season, moving up the coast in dwindling numbers as hulking factory ships chase them.
While mackerel, turbot and whiting are all fair game for fishmongers, hamsi holds a special place in Turkish cuisine. Unlike the slimy, salty canned form of the fish reserved for eccentric pizza toppings in North America, anchovies are eaten fresh in Turkey. Lightly battered, quickly fried and served with a slice of lemon, hamsi are gobbled down by the kilo, bones and all.
Fishing still thrives in Sinop, as in ancient times – for countless generations, fisherman here have pointed their personal boats out to sea in search of hamsi. But sadly, that may not be true for much longer. The crumbling old city walls no longer guard an important trade hub along the Black Sea but seemingly serve to contain apartments and vacation rentals from falling into the sea. Most of the traders at the market now only come on Mondays and Thursdays, hauling both produce and clothing. In Sinop’s harbor, dozens of small wooden boats are moored next to giant industrial behemoths painted the colors of their fleet.
“We never used to eat hamsi before the snow, but now it’s different,” said Kanal, a third-generation fishmonger and the owner of the Okyanus Balık Evi (“Ocean Fish House”) restaurant on Sinop’s waterfront.
Read the rest of this feature at Culinary Backstreets.
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no responses - Posted 02.10.15
The fatty torik – the Turkish name for a large, mature Atlantic bonito, similar to the little tunny – courses the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles for just a short period each year in November and December. Yet the people of Istanbul eat it year-round by preserving the ...continue
2 responses - Posted 11.05.14
The first time we approached the stand of the legendary fish sandwich man, we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw: a dark, portly man with a glorious mustache (hence his nickname, Mario) turning fish on a portable grill cart next to the Karaköy waterfront. He had a long line of ...continue
no responses - Posted 05.29.14
The departure of Aret, our favorite garson in the city, had us reconsidering our love of this little cubbyhole meyhane where we've spent so many nights over the years. With our loyalty to Aret and his to us, would it not be cheating to return to Çukur when Aret now runs his own place just a ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.29.13
These days, writing about Istanbul’s old-school restaurants can be heartbreaking work. No sooner do we find out about a classic lunch spot than it turns out the place is about to be closed down to make way for yet another development project. Meanwhile, Istanbul’s relentless drive to modernize and “clean ...continue
2 responses - Posted 11.18.13
Around the time that hamsi, our favorite little fish, appear in the markets of Istanbul in late fall we become restless for the Black Sea-style cooking we’ve been missing since the previous season. Hamsi (fresh anchovies) are not the only thing to eat in a Black Sea restaurant, but eating ...continue
no responses - Posted 08.20.13
More so than any other district in Istanbul, Perşembe Pazarı – the city’s hardware zone – brings together what we love most about this city: thriving street life, hard-to-grasp commercial enterprises, remnants of history and, of course, excellent hidden spots to eat. A chickpea and pilaf cart is pushed past ...continue
1 response - Posted 07.22.13
On a night out in Istanbul, we often find ourselves forced to make sacrifices in one or more categories of the overall dining experience. Great food at reasonable prices will surely be laid out in a room decorated in Anatolian kitsch. Bosphorus views and contemporary furnishings are a license to ...continue
2 responses - Posted 07.15.13
One of the great joys of spring and summertime in Istanbul is the chance to get away for a day to one of the Princes’ Islands, the car-free and forested archipelago that is a short ferry ride away from the city. The only downside to an island hop is actually ...continue
1 response - Posted 04.15.13
In an opinion piece published recently in the Latitude blog of The New York Times, veteran Turkey correspondent Andrew Finkel’s brutally honest appraisal of the state of “New Turkish Cuisine” called much of Istanbul’s restaurant establishment – down to the customers – into question. We’ve had similar misgivings after meals ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.09.13
Editor’s note: This post was written by “Meliz,” an intrepid explorer of Istanbul’s culinary backstreets and frequent Istanbul Eats guest contributor who would like to keep her anonymity. While the Princes’ Islands make for a great escape from the city, it used to be hard to think of them as a ...continue