Last winter, I wrote about hamsi (anchovies) being for sale on Fethiye fish market. We love hamsi season and it's once more upon us - which means we've come full circle on the seasonal food front, meaning Turkey's For Life is nearly 1 year old. Wow! How did that happen so soon?
Anyway, hamsi is very much available on Fethiye fish market and we'll definitely be buying some soon - a great 'Saturday-night-in' nibbly tea. This year, however, we consider ourselves to have been fortunate to have been in Istanbul in October. Hamsi is a Black Sea seasonal fish and October is the beginning of the hamsi fishing season. Karaköy fish market, on the shore of the Golden Horn, was already packed full of the beautiful, silky, silvery, tasty morsels and we were both dying to try some.
Fresh hamsi being unloaded onto Karaköy fish marketWas it going to taste any different to the hamsi we've eaten at Fethiye fish market? Surely it must. So fresh! As soon as people were buying it there were small fishing boats pulling up to the shore and dumping crate loads of them onto the cobbles; minimal travel time, straight onto the stalls and almost immediately sold to the crowds of shoppers.
It was early in the morning when we walked around the market but once we saw the fish and the cooking areas, we decided we had to go back there for lunch - hamsi ekmeği (deep fried anchovies served in a half bread with rocket and onion). 3 lira! When we went back at lunchtime, we actually ended up having üskümrü ekmeği (fresh mackerel in a half bread) but that's another post. Why didn't we plump for the hamsi? Well, we just decided to save that for tea time. Fresh fish was on our menu for that day!
Stall holders prepare deep-fried hamsiWe returned to the market around tea time (yes, we went three times in one day!) and as the sun began to set over the Golden Horn, hundreds of commuters were clambering off the ferry, shoppers were fresh fish bargain hunting, stall holders were calling out prices and countless hamsi were being cleaned, tossed in flour and plunged into hot oil. We were excited about this one. We ordered our hamsi ekmeği; crispy, hot, fresh, juicy fish - and lots of it - served in between fresh Turkish bread with a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt, rocket leaves and onion. The ultimate street food as far as I'm concerned. Just divine.
The advantage of Karaköy fish market is its location. We paid our 3 lira, took our sandwiches...
Süleymaniye Mosque silhouetted across the Golden Horn, Istanbul