If you love to eat fresh fish, Istanbul is heaven on Earth. There are more than 20 distinct types of fish to be found in the waters around Istanbul.
While nobody will disagree about its nutritional worth, it’s vital that you choose a fresh one. I’ll tell you where to find the freshest fish in Istanbul and how to tell whether a fish is really fresh.
Different Sea, Different Fish
Turkey is a geographically lucky nation, with access to the Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. The variety of these oceans’ features is a pleasant surprise. Istanbul’s abundance of high-quality fish eateries along the Bosphorus, many of which have breathtaking views, is a welcome addition to this selection.
When it comes to seafood, Istanbul is a city of natural gifts. A variety of tasty fish is available throughout the year. Anchovies, horse mackerel, and little bluefish are popular choices among locals for use in home cookery.
Istanbul’s Fresh Fish by Month
An overview of fresh fish by month is provided below
- January: In the month of January, you may catch anchovies, bonitos, horse mackerel, mackerel, mussels, red mullets, little blue fish, and whiting.
- February: Fishing for bonito, red mullet, sea bass, and anchovies in February. Beginning this month and continuing until May’s end, turbot is available.
- March: March is great for grey mullet, sea bass, and turbot, and the red mullet is still acceptable. Fat is burned off, and the flavour of blue fish and bonito diminishes.
- April: April is when you can get the best-tasting turbot and sea bass. Sea bass, swordfish, and red gurnard are also abundant this time of year, making them a good value. You can still get some excellent red mullet and mullet.
- May: May is a great month to go fishing for sea bass, mullet, sole, and swordfish. Guests may choose between shrimp and lobster.
- June: In terms of fish diversity and quality, June is the worst month. Goby, horse mackerel, tuna, mullet, and red mullet are still available to consumers, although they are more costly than in other months.
- July: Horse mackerel and mackerel are tasty when cooked in the month of July. It’s possible to get lobster and crab. Sardines pilchard season starts this month and lasts until around the middle of September.
- August: In August you may find the greatest horse mackerel, sardines, tuna, swordfish, lobster, and crab. Since bluefish has a sluggish beginning, it is more costly this month.
- September: Best bonito, red mullet, sardines, little blue fish, and swordfish may all be found in September.
- October: Bonito, mullet, red mullet, sardines, little blue fish, swordfish, and sea bass are all available in October.
- November: In contrast to October, November introduces just whiting.
- December: Anchovies (best in December and January), bonito, lobster, crab, mackerel, little blue fish, and whiting all swim in the waters of the northern hemisphere throughout the month of December.
The Black Sea fish that spend the summer in the Marmara Sea migrate back there in October. As a result, not only are there many of them, but they’re also high-quality. The ocean cools down after the month of December. This results in healthier and tastier fish. Even if you visit Istanbul in the dead of winter and the sun doesn’t warmly greet you, you can still have some fresh fish.
When Should You Buy a Fish?
The majority of establishments prominently showcase their seafood selections. You are always welcome to inspect and choose the fish yourself if you so want. Everything that fish should and should not have is listed here.
- The eyes are the window to the soul, thus care must be taken to ensure they are not sunken or foggy like they have cataracts.
- Some fish, despite this, often have gills that are less red and pinker. You have it wrong. They shouldn’t be too black and dried out, nor should they be totally white.
- The fish’s flesh shouldn’t be mushy; a fresh catch will spring back to its original shape when pressed with your finger. The fish’s tail must also be sturdy. Another indicator that fish isn’t fresh is when the scales come off easily.
- The odour – Let’s be honest, raw fish does not have the most enticing odor, but it also shouldn’t make you think of ammonia.
Farmed or Wild Fish?
Is fish from the wild or aquaculture better?
It might be confusing to be asked, “Natural sea (me sim bal) or farm fish (çiftlik bal)?” at a fish restaurant. Apparently, there are some distinctions, but neither is superior or inferior. It really boils down to a matter of preference or taste.
Fish raised in captivity have a pampered existence in comparison to their wild counterparts. Being fed healthy food on a daily basis has resulted in increased size and fat content. In addition to being fatty, their flesh is tender. The cold storage and transit help their meat maintain its quality for longer.
Fish in the wild have to compete for scarce resources and defend themselves against predators. Strong muscles mean their skin is more toned. They become more vibrantly hued as a result of exposure to a wider range of colours in the wild. Their natural, seaweed-like odour is a result of their diet, which is based on the natural food chain. The wind, the sun, the flapping of a large crowd, and the presence of various fish all have an impact on the quality of their flesh.
Fishing Terms Used in Turkey
- Hamsi, or anchovies
- Flaky — Palamut
- Big bonito or toric — Torik
- Morina — Cod
- Conch / Yengeç / Pavurya
- Kaya bal — the goby
- Kefal, the Grey Mullet.
- stavrit, or horse mackerel, is a kind of large, fatty fish.
- Crab — Istakoz
- Uskumru, or mackerel, is a kind of fish.
- This is the Barbunya, or mullet.
- “red gurnard” (Krlangç)
- Tekir, with the red mullet
- Fishing for sardines in Sardalya
- The Levrek family sea bass.
- Karides, or shrimp
- Dilbal — the sole
- Mersin — Sturgeon
- Kliç bal (Swordfish)
- For Tuna, Try Orkinos (tuna)
- Fishing for Turbot in Kalkan
- Fishing for Mezgit — Whitefish
There are six distinct names for blue fish, from the smallest to the largest. Some of the most popular are:
- Çinekop (in October, November and December) (in October, November and December)
- Sarıkanat (between December and January) (in December and January)
- Lüfer (between January and February) (in January and February)
- Kofana (in March) (in March)
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