If you want a true example of what seasonal means, just pay a visit to one of the large fish markets of Istanbul. Karaköy just down by the Galata Bridge is a sight to behold and so is the pedestrianized area – çarşı – in the heart of Kadıköy on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.
But even your little local fishmonger will have a tempting display and right now it’s palamut or bonito. These beautiful firm-fleshed fish swim down from the Black Sea: at the start they are çingene palamudu but then they grow into the next size up, bonito or simply palamut. Of course they don’t stop there: they keep right on growing until they become fully fledged torik!
Click here if you are interested in the different sizes and names of the in between stages of the palamut!
Now, here’s an interesting piece of information for those who’d like to cook this delicious fish at home: you can either get it cut into two fillets/fileto, OR you can ask for takoz. This refers to the way it’s cut into slices by the fishmonger (and I highly recommend that you ask him to do it as opposed to doing it yourself). It looks like this when you get it home:
Up until now, I have always gone for fileto because I thought that sliced meant frying. But no, thanks to SIL, I am now a convert to takoz done in the oven and finished off with a few minutes under the grill!
So yesterday SIL bought 4 lovely shiny, fresh as fresh, palamut and prepared them for us all for lunch (we were 6). It’s certainly an easy fish to deal with: here’s how…
- Wash the slices and place on kitchen paper to absorb the excess water.
- Line your oven baking tray with greaseproof paper and arrange the slices on top.
- Don’t forget to preheat your oven to 180C/350F first.
- Grind some sea salt over the fish and drizzle the juice of 2½ lemons over each slice. Then baste with olive oil.
- NB of course you can add some fancy extras eg slices of red onion, bay leaves, lemon or tomato slices, or long green peppers. You could add some sprigs of parsley or dill to garnish at the end of cooking.
- Cook for 20 minutes approx and then place under the grill for a further 10 minutes, the idea is for the slices to colour. You can omit this stage but the fish does look more appetising when lightly grilled. Check to see if the slices need a little more basting with the olive oil as this fish can dry out easily.
To serve, I made a mixed salad with our favourite crunchy marul lettuce, a few little sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, some parsley and dill tossed at the last minute with a white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and French mustard vinaigrette. The mustard adds a piquancy to the dressing that makes a difference.