Bluefish or Lufer
Turkish cuisine has a firm favourite and that is the bluefish which is commonly fished and containing high fat contents. The best method to eat bluefish is broiled or grilles and all you need to add when cooking it at home is salt and pepper and light brush of olive oil. Everywhere you go in Turkey including Istanbul it is cooked in a similar fashion and the best season to eat it is from August until end of December. Locals agree the best bluefish with the most flavour comes from Bosphorus strait running through Istanbul.
Bonito or Palamut
The bonito is in abundance during the same period as the bluefish and has a Firm texture and a dark colour and when bought much cheaper that bluefish, thus Istanbul’s economical “family” fish. Even though cooked in a similar fashion as bluefish with its high fat content, it requires more than salt and pepper. Bonito is caught in the Black Sea anytime from July each year.
Red Mullet or Barbunya
The red mullet is as its name indicated a rich red coloured fish and highly prized in Turkish cuisine with a slightly bitter, earthy taste. They are caught in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas as they love deeper, colder water. When you eat it Turkish style the method used is pilaki style with added tomato, spices, carrots, fresh herbs and garlic, but some restaurants and locals eat it fried as well.
Sea Bass or Levrek
If you want to talk about most coveted fish in Turkey and Istanbul you have to name sea bass first. Sea bass is excellent with light seasoning and oil brushed then grilled while you get restaurants that roast whole sea bass in hardened sea salt which makes a shell that is drizzled with bourbon before roasting. You will find sea bass from May until August and often farm raised and not sea caught.
Wahoo or Torik
Sports fishermen love catching wahoo as it is aggressive and high speed fish, making it fun to catch. While it thrives in the Black sea you will get it in sub-tropical and tropical waters too. In Turkish cuisine it is famed from its silky textures meatiness even though you will find Wahoo as appetizer in most restaurants and seldom as whole meal. It is served uncooked sushi style and pickled in ice water, lemon and salt before stored in olive oil prior to serving cold.
Turbot or Kalkan
In the Black Sea during the winter months you will find Turbot and one of the fish species that is served in various ways in Turkish cuisine equally successful. All these ways are delicious and some use it for soup, others cut fish strips that they coat with flour before frying while others will grill it.
Sardines or Sardalya
During the fall you get an abundance of Sardine in the Aegean seas and this fish is typically eaten in true Turkish cuisine wrapped in vine leaves then grilled, while others will fry or pickle it too.
Mackerel or Uskumru
Mackerel amounts are dwindling and only served seasonal and caught in the Saros and Gallipoli areas south of Istanbul. The fish is then cooked in capers and white wine in most restaurants.
Pandora or Mercan
A lovely fish with a lovely pink flesh and an equally delicate taste that is fished from June until end of July and caught all over the Aegean Sea. The Pandora grows quite large and a 30 pound fish is no strange sight, while most restaurants prefer the three to ten pounds fish for even better flavour. Salt and pepper, lemon juice and a brush of olive oils are all it needs before grilling it to perfection.
Anchovies or Hamsi
Turkish cuisine is known for its anchovies especially in the region of the Black Sea where it is a staple and you will find it in anything from sweets, pickles, breads, main courses and appetizers, salads and soups. During winter months from December until February you get the best of the best anchovies while the meatier and larger anchovies but lesser amounts are found in the Sea of Marmara.