Lakerda – Cured Fish in Olive Oil

During our last meal in Cunda, before the mesmerizing effect of the lor tatlisi arrived, we were knocked down by a couple of meze dishes. One was lakerda, which is among my a dozen seafood favorites and a new acquaintance for my husband. I was reluctant to tell him that it was raw fish in fact, I know he would do anything to avoid it if he knew. The plan worked well. The delicacy turned him into a humming bird soon enough so I told him what it really was, two seconds of hesitant silence was again followed by num nums. He liked it so much that he asked the restaurant owner to pack a jar of that goodness for us to take home.

A properly-made lakerda tastes divine. Fatty fish fillets, cured with salt, then soaked in extra virgin olive oil… The type of fish differs. What we had was akya, garrick fish that is. A more desirable fish for pickling would be large bonito, called torik in Turkish. It takes around two weeks to cure the fish. Cleaning is the tricky part, no blood should remain in the flesh.

It is best served cold with olive oil, red onions and dill. It makes me thank God for living in this part of the world.

Balik Corbasi – Fish Soup

Balik Corbasi - Fish Soup

It’s definitely not the best time of year to crave fish, but I can’t help it. Period. Those cravings would not be satisfied with frozen or farmed fish and I’m not an easy going person when it comes to less than perfect food. ‘Perfect’ fish is a bit expensive around this time of year, so the best thing to make with it is a fish soup, of course Ottoman style. In certain parts of the Black Sea region this recipe is still very common, with generous amounts of lemon juice and a hint of saffron, just like it used to be served in the Ottoman Palace. I’ve met a lot of people who fell in love with this soup at first sip, even those who claim to not like seafood. Here is the guide to your ‘Love at first sip’!

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Firinda Cipura – Oven Baked Gilthead Seabream

I’ve been craving fish for months, bluefish is my favorite, turbot comes next. There are rumors flying around about the soon-to-go-extinct bluefish, advising against consumption of it if smaller than 24cms, so I had to convince myself not to buy bluefish until the larger ones are abundant and the prices go down correspondingly.

If you’re asking what does all this have to do with the gilthead seabream recipe, it arrived just in time when my cravings ran in full force. They sell farm-bred seabream all around and it tastes like grass, so I would never recommend it. Farmed seabass is a bit more acceptable in terms of taste, but no farmed seabream for me, thanks. The one I baked was from Western Black Sea and so fresh and full of flavor. By the way, hubs is not a fish-fan at all, but once I had the time to check out on him while nibbling on my yummy fish, he was sucking the gelatinous bits over the bones. Here is how I baked it and let the flavors come out:

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