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Ekşili Balık – A Lemony Turkish Fish Stew Recipe

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We absolutely love seafood and ekşili balık (eck-shee-lee balick) is our Turkish fish stew recipe that can be enjoyed all year round.

I say ‘our recipe.’ Like kızartma and Izmir Köfte, ekşili balık is actually under Barry’s charge. Nothing to do with me.

Apart from the enjoyment of eating it once it’s served.

Fish Stew
We love this lemony recipe

And enjoy it, we do. We eat it hot, straight from the oven. But the following day, no reheating necessary as the cold leftovers for lunch are equally tasty.

Making Our Turkish Ekşili Balık

‘Ekşi’ means ‘sour’.

And, in Turkish cuisine, there are lots of dishes that fall under the ‘ekşili’ umbrella.

Ekşili köfte perhaps comes at number 1 spot for being the most famous. But we’ve also got an ekşili tavuk corbası – sour chicken soup – recipe on the blog.

However, particularly in our hometown of Fethiye, the plethora of seafood restaurants has meant specialist seafood chefs have become more inventive with their recipes.

Ekşili balık makes an appearance in various guises at some of these restaurants.

Different types of fish are used; some is served as a whole fillet whilst others will serve the fish cut into chunks.

As you might expect, particularly with seafood, the sour ‘ekşili’ (with sourness) flavour is created by the use of fresh lemon juice.

Sour Turkish Fish Stew
Our lemony Turkish dish is cooked in the oven

Our recipe is a stew because we’re going to be cooking the sauce, the fish and the vegetables altogether in the oven.

What results is a steaming pot of comfort seafood loveliness in winter. And, because of the zesty lemon flavours, it is not too heavy to enjoy in the heat of the summer, either.

Preparing The Ekşili Sauce

First of all, your Turkish fish stew needs the base for your lemon-flavoured ‘ekşili’ sauce.

Stock & Vegetable Preparation

Prepare a big saucepan of homemade chicken stock or fish stock. On this occasion, we used chicken stock.

You can kill two birds with one stone at this stage and parboil some of your vegetables in the stock for about 7 minutes.

We’re making a fish stew with potatoes and celeriac, amongst other vegetables, and it’s these two you need to parboil.

After 7 minutes, remove them and allow them to cool because you don’t want them to become too soft and mushy once they’re in the oven as part of the fish stew.

Making Your Sauce Base

Now, you can make the base for your fish stew, using the ovenproof dish you’re going to cook the stew in.

Lemon Sauce
Make your sauce base for your Turkish fish stew

For your lemony Turkish fish stew sauce base, mix two tablespoonfuls of your stock with saffron, capers, chopped dill and the juice of two large lemons.

To add an extra richness to the sauce, we’re also going to add one cured sardine fillet, broken up.

These are the pungently-flavoured jarred sardines that are cured in salt and stored in oil. Add a dash of the oil, too.

Don’t worry if you don’t like the super strong flavour of these sardines or anchovies.

They will dissolve into the sauce and enrich it. You won’t even know they’re there, despite the fact that they’re doing an important job.

Preparing Your Fish Stew

Now, we can preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and pile our fish stew ingredients over the top of the lemon sauce base.

Potatoes & Peppers
Add your fish stew ingredients to your oven dish

As well as your potatoes and celeriac chunks, we’re going to be using a few chopped fresh green beans and a chopped red capsicum pepper for a splash of colour.

Sprinkle a couple of teaspoonfuls of plain flour over your vegetables and stir them around. This will help to thicken your stew slightly.

And now, pour over around 300 millilitres of your stock and mix around. This then needs to be placed in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes.

Which Fish To Use For Your Fish Stew Recipe

And then it’s time for the fish!

We have used the generic name, ‘fish stew’ because it is up to you what type of fish you use. Just make sure it’s a meaty fish that isn’t going to flake into tiny pieces.

For this recipe, we had some frozen mezgit (pollock or haddock-like fish) that we wanted to use up but you can also use oily fish if you like.

A few ideas for your fish stew recipe:

  • Cod / haddock / pollock / coley fillets
  • Seabass fillets
  • Seabream fillets
  • Leerfish (native to the Mediterranean) steaks cut into chunks
  • Swordfish steak cut into chunks
  • Fresh mackerel fillets

After 30 minutes, remove your vegetables and stock from the oven and add your fish chunks, stirring them in.

At this point, if you want your fish stew to have more sauce, ladle in more of your stock.

It’s all down to personal taste. And how much room you have in your oven dish.

Place your fish stew back in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until your fish chunks have cooked through.

Time To Serve Your Lemony Fish Stew

And then, it’s time to serve your oozy, lemony fish stew with potatoes and vegetables.

Fish Stew With Potatoes
Ekşili balık – lemony fish stew with potatoes and vegetables

Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill and parsley. Then serve.

If you’re a seafood fan and you love a hearty stew, we’re sure you’ll love ekşili balık!

Turkish Fish Stew Recipe – Ekşili Balık

Let’s make our Turkish fish stew with potatoes.

A plate of fish stew. White fish pieces and potato topped with fresh dill
4 from 1 vote

Turkish Fish Stew Recipe

Ekşili balık – or lemony fish stew – is a wholesome dish for seafood lovers that can be enjoyed all year round.
Save Print Pin
Course Main
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 260kcal
Author Turkey’s For Life

Equipment

  • Large saucepan
  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients

For The Fish And Vegetables

  • 400 grams boneless fish cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes scrubbed & cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 medium celeriac peeled & cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 large fresh green beans washed & cut into large pieces
  • 1 large red capsicum pepper deseeded & cut into rough pieces
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour

For The 'Ekşili' Sauce

  • ½ litre chicken or fish stock
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and grated
  • 2 large lemons juice of
  • 1 handful capers roughly chopped
  • 1 large cured anchovy or sardine roughly chopped, oil included
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoons saffron a few strands
  • salt & pepper to season

To Garnish

  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill & parsley roughly chopped

Instructions

  • In your large saucepan, bring your stock to the boil and then add your potatoes and celeriac.
  • Reduce to a rolling simmer and cook the potato and celeriac for no longer than 7 minutes.
  • Now remove from the stock and leave to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Meanwhile, add you garlic, capers, anchovy and oil, saffron, lemon juice and dill to your oven dish.
  • Now add 2-3 tablespoonfuls of your stock, the salt and pepper and mix everything together.
  • Add your potatoes, celeriac, capsicum peppers and green beans. Sprinkle with your plain flour.
  • Gently mix everything together so that the vegetables are coated and the flour is thickening the sauce.
  • Pour around 300 millilitres of stock over your vegetables, gently mix and place in the centre of your preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and add your fish chunks. You can add more stock at this stage if you like.
  • Place your stew back in the oven for 15-18 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with freshly chopped dill and parsley.

Notes

  • As with all of our recipes, the calories count for our fish stew recipe is meant as a rough guide only. 
  • Calories will differ depending on the type of stock you use and which fish you choose.
  • Feel free to use whatever uncooked fish you like. We used frozen whiting but you can use other white fish and oily fish such as sword fish or leerfish. Fresh mackerel also works well.
  • Likewise with the vegetables. It’s a fish stew with potatoes but you can substitute any other vegetables if you prefer. 
  • We make our own chicken or fish stock but stock cubes are quick and easy and work well, too.
  • The amount of stock you need for your fish stew recipe is not a hard and fast measurement. Add more if you like more sauce.
  • When you add your cured anchovies, allow some of the oil to go into your oven dish, too.
  • Our recipe serves four people. If there is just the two of us, we eat a serving hot for evening meal and then have the other servings for lunch the following day without reheating. We love to eat it cold, too.

Nutrition

Calories: 260kcal

And that’s our Turkish fish stew recipe.

As we said at the beginning of this article, we love seafood. So, as well as indulging ourselves at places like Girida Port in Fethiye, we do cook a lot of it at home.

Time to add more of those recipes to the blog…

If you love Turkish börek, try our seafood muska böreği (filo triangles) recipe.

And if you just love all Turkish food and want to cook some of your own at home, check out our Turkish recipes collection.

There’s bound to be something there to tempt you…

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Dr. Yvel

Saturday 29th of October 2022

Thanks for the recipe! It seems you forgot the flour in the ingredients list and you included the capsicum in the ingredients but not in the instructions. I used 2 tsp flour and added the capsicum with the green beans.

Turkey's For Life

Monday 31st of October 2022

Hi Dr. Yvel, thanks for your comment and thanks for pointing out about the flour in our ingredients list for the Turkish fish stew. We've now added that. :) The capsicum is there in the instructions - we just referred to it as 'peppers.' Hope you like the stew when you made it. :)

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