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Fresh Fish in Istanbul – How to Pick and Order a Nice One

If you love to eat fish, Istanbul is paradise on Earth. The various seas surrounding Istanbul offer over 20 different kinds of fish.
While nobody will argue over its nutritous value, it’s imperative that you pick a fresh one. Let me give you some tips and tricks on how to understand the freshness of a fish, and the best seasons for the different kinds of fish in Istanbul.

Different Sea, Different Fish

With its shores on Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranian Seas, Turkey is geographicly a very fortunate country. The characteristics of these seas vary, which provides a nice diversity. Istanbul adds a plus to this variety with plenty of excellent fish restaurants located by the Bosphorus, offering a splendid view.

Istanbul is a gifted city when it comes to eating fish. Every season of the year you can find several kinds of delicious fish. Locals mostly prefer smaller fish like anchovy, horse mackerel and small blue fish for home cooking.

Istanbul’s Fresh Fish by Month

Below you find an overview of fresh fish according to the months.

Fresh fish on display at the market in Istanbul, Turkey. [1]

Fresh fish on display at the market.

Please note that in October the fish that live in the Black Sea all summer long come back to the Marmara Sea. So they are available both in good quantity and quality. After December, the sea water gets colder. This means that the fish get fattier, and also much tastier. So, if you are in Istanbul during the winter and the sun doesn’t welcome you warmly, at least you know now that you can have a delicious fresh winter fish.

How to Pick a Fresh Fish?

Most of the restaurants have their avalable fish on display. You are always invited to check and handpick the fish you want them to prepare for you. Here is the list of things your fish should and should not have.

Restaurant with fish on display in Istanbul, Turkey. [2]

Restaurant with fish on display.

Natural or Farm Fish?

Which one is better, natural or farm fish?

When you go to a fish restaurant [3] you might be puzzled with the question, “Natural sea (mevsim balığı) or farm fish (çiftlik balığı)”. Apperantly there are some differences, yet neither is better or worse. It is all about personal choice or taste.

Farm fish have an easy life compared to the natural fish. They are regularly fed with a balanced diet, so they are mostly bigger in size and fattier. Their flesh is softer and rich in fat. Their meat stays in shape longer via the frigofric storage and transportation.

Nature fish have to fight for food and protect themselves from the predators to survive. So they have strong muscles, hence tighter flesh. Due to the natural enviroment they are exposed to, they accumulate a variety of different pigments, hence are more colorful. Thanks to the natural food chain diet, their smell is more natural — like sea and seaweed. The quality of their meat is affected by enviromental factors such as the wind, sun, fluttering in a mass of crowd and different kind of fish.

Turkish Fish Glossary

Blue fish has 6 different names ranged from small to bigger. The most favourite ones are:

Photo Source [1 [4]] [2 [5]] [3 [6]]

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