I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Sureyya Uzmez, the food writer and owner of Ankara’s Trilye Fish Restaurant; undoubtedly one of the best fish restaurants in Turkey. I greatly admired Sureyya Bey’s (Mr Sureyya’s) passion for seafood and efforts to source the freshest possible fish and shellfish at home, and preparing them in a way to bring the best out of them. This is also the essence of Turkish cooking; we aim to bring out the freshness, the actual flavor of the produce, rather than hiding it behind sauces. I very much look forward to the Trilye experience in Ankara, and I hope you can too.
My dear cousin, Ahmet Sabuncu is an accomplished photographer (please check out Ahmet’s award winning pinhole photography) and a TV producer for TRT (Turkish Radio and Television). Teaming up with Mr Uzmez and the wonderful Sofra Restaurant’s ambassador of Turkish food, Mr Huseyin Ozer, they have been shooting a TV program in London about how Turkish and British cuisines have been shaped throughout the history, the ethnic influences that has contributed to Turkish and other food cultures. They kindly included an interview with me for the program, which is planned to go on air in Turkey – very exciting! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience – my sincere thanks to them. I will keep you posted on the air time of the program 🙂
Regarded as a symbol of fertility, fish is very much enjoyed at home, especially at the coastal regions. Turkey is bounded by the sea on three sides – the Mediterranean, Aegean and the Black Sea. With the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles at northwest, Turkey has over 7,000km (4,350 miles) of coastline. The plentiful fishing waters provide daily catches of bluefish, red and grey mullet, swordfish, sea bass, tuna, bonito, turbot, plaice, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and many more. In most of the coastal regions, fish is bought very fresh, straight off the boats at the daily fish market, still swimming around in the buckets or beautifully arranged on ice.
Inspired by Sureyya Bey’s passion for seafood, I adapted one of the recipes at Trilye’s wonderful book “Trilye’s Passion for Sea Food” (Trilye’nin Balik Sevdasi). This delicious baked sea bass makes a complete meal with all the fresh vegetables in it, and so easy to make. I poached the sea bass and the vegetables in olive oil, lemon juice and a little water, just as the same way we cook ‘Vegetables cooked in olive oil’, Zeytinyaglis. This delicious and healthy way of cooking retains all the wonderful juices of the fish and vegetables. The result has been a refreshing, utterly delicious supper that disappeared very quickly.
This wonderful recipe and over 90 authentic, delicious Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book are delivered worldwide, including US and Canada at this link – You can also see also kindle, ebook etc options here
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes Cooking time: about 35-40 minutes*
4 fillets of sea bass – or any fresh white fish-
1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped coarsely
1 small green (bell or pointy) pepper, quartered and sliced thinly
1 small yellow (bell or pointy) pepper, quartered and sliced thinly
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely sliced
2-3 medium potatoes, cut in half and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
8fl oz/1 cup water (or fish stock)
45ml/3 tbsp olive oil
5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes – optional
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped – to decorate
Lemon wedges to serve
* Please check the recommended cooking time for the fish of your choice on the packaging.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
Stir in all the prepared vegetables and the bay leaves in a baking dish. Coat them with the olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if used).
Coat the fish fillets with 1 tbsp of olive oil and place them amongst the vegetables. Mix the lemon juice with water or fish stock and spoon this liquid all around the fish and vegetables. Cover the baking dish with foil and put it in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the fish and vegetables are cooked. Once cooked, take the foil out and sprinkle chopped parsley over the fish. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon by the side.
For a light and delicious finish, you may serve the Baked Apricots with Walnuts as a dessert.
Afiyet Olsun (May you be healthy and happy with the food you eat);