turkey fish

My final post on Istanbul focuses on two of the aspects of Turkish food culture that I was really looking forward to enjoying: the incredibly fresh seafood and the historical markets. One of my favorite seafood dish was a sizzling shrimp casserole with mushrooms and onions, karides guvec. Julie and I tried it at many different places and each slight variation was still consistently comforting and flavorful.  The sophisticated spicing reminds me of the Silk Road, intermingling tastes the Middle East and Europe with a touch of India.

At restaurant 360, we indulged in a fabulous view of the Istanbul skyline and its equally glittering Beautiful People. To start we had circassian cheese-stuffed calamari – the thought of squid and cheese together was intriguing, and was actually a winning combination.

I had the sea bass which were perfectly grilled, just look at that char! I could have done without the lincoln log potatoes, though.

Aya had the mustard glazed salmon (sorry the picture is so iffy), a classic that was benefited from excellent technique.

Julie went more Turkish, successfully so: filet of dorade wrapped in vine leaves,  with grapes and raki sauce (the local anise-flavored liquor).

In the Kumkapi district along the Sea of Marmara are some the city’s best fish restaurants with the freshest seafood in town – here’s today’s catch at Fener restaurant. The fat roundish dorades are a white fish that tastes like snapper.

After choosing your fish, the preparation is elegantly simple to bring out its essence of the fish: scored, grilled, salt, and lemon.

Of course we couldn’t get enough of the shrimp casserole with its delicately spiced juices bursting with flavor from tomatoes and peppers – perfect for dipping hot crusty bread.


fresh juiceHeading over to the spice bazaar (also known as the Egyptian Market in Istanbul) you can’t help but linger at all the enticing food vendors offering fresh pomegranate juice…


roasted chestnutsor the ubiquitous hot roasted chestnuts.


spice bazaarOnce in the spice bazaar (a maze of tunnel-like galleries of stalls and shops), all of the spices and teas and dried fruits and nuts you stuffed your face with are awaiting your suitcase for the trip home.

spice bazaarPick out your favorite treats and the vendors weigh it, bag it, and vacuum-pack it into a little flat packet safe for your baggage.

spice bazaarRare and prized goods are easily available in the second oldest bazaar in the city – here since the 17th century.

spice bazaarIstanbul was the gateway to the Silk Road and it’s readily apparent in the bazaar overflowing with spices from all corners of the Middle East and Asia.

teasEverywhere you go as a tourist, you’ll be offered sweet and tart apple tea and beautiful blooming pomegranate tea. You can find both here along with maybe a hundred other kinds of tea that I’d never seen before.

buying turkish delightYou can get a selection of your favorite Turkish Delight cut to order.

spice bazaar treatsAnd along with other treats, goodies and sweets – you can find all your favorite Turkish flavors here in the spice bazaar (mine were pomegranate, pistachios, and rose).  The only thing that was missing was a Turkish cookbook to put it all together – luckily, I found a gorgeous and well-researched one right in the airport. Hopefully I can recreate some of the aromatic flavors of my favorite Turkish dishes and share them with you soon.

Did you miss the other posts on Istanbul food? You can find all the desserts you can handle here, and how to be a vegetarian in Turkey here.


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