Now is the time to buy those hamsi or anchovies, delight of Turkey food lovers and staple of the local Black Sea cuisine . They are available everywhere in huge amounts glinting under the naked light bulbs which hang over the fish stalls here in Istanbul. The price reflects this huge influx: 4 or 5 TL per kilo. You can’t do better than that!
Now, the best way to eat these little beauties is, like any other small fish, fried and with your fingers, but if you are like me, you baulk at frying. There are many favourite hamsi dishes but I like this particular recipe because it’s healthy. Here’s another one with some good pics of hamsi on sale in the fish markets here in Istanbul ….
Buğulama literally means steamed but in this case let’s say poached: just a little hot water and ditto olive oil. The anchovies are sandwiched between masses of chopped fresh herbs and tomatoes sprinkled lavishly both on the bottom of the pan and then on top of the layer of fish. Add some lemon slices, and lo and behold, your fish dinner is all ready to be cooked! Or indeed the dish can be used as a first course which is how I served it the other night along with crusty bread.
- Dry the fish on absorbent kitchen paper.
- Mix together the olive oil, tomatoes, spring onions and herbs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and lay half the mixture in a shallow pan. Lay the fish on top and cover with the remaining mixture. QUANTITIES DON’T HAVE TO BE EXACT.
- Cover with slices of lemon and add enough hot water to just cover the fish.
- Cover and cook on a moderate heat for 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the fish.
- Alternatively bake in a moderate oven.
- Serve with fresh crusty bread as part of a meze spread.