I was delighted to get some fresh anchovy fillets, hamsi, as we call in Turkish at my local market a few weeks ago. This small, oily fish, caught from October in Turkey, is much loved and a big part of the Turkish cuisine, especially at the Black Sea coast. There are many recipes celebrating anchovy at Turkey’s Black Sea region, from fried anchovies, hamsi tava, to anchovies poached in vine leaves, from anchovy bread to hamsi pilavi, delicious rice with pine nuts and currants, encased in anchovy fillets. Anchovy, hamsi lovers apparently even make anchovy jam at the Black Sea region!
I simply love poaching this delicious, strongly flavored anchovy fillets with layers of vegetables in a little water and olive oil. This method of cooking is called “bugulama” (steamed) in Turkish cuisine; not only healthy but also delicately brings out the flavors of each component here. Tomatoes, potatoes, onions add a lovely flavor in their own juice and balance strong taste of anchovies. Slices of lemon and parsley also add a delicious, refreshing taste; all in one pot, healthy dish, packed with flavor. Any small fish or fillets of white fish, as well as sardines would also work well in this dish. You may be able to get your anchovies gutted and cleaned by your fishmonger or buy as fillets.
You can enjoy this poached anchovies with vegetables or anchovy stew as a mezze to share, or a main course.
- 450gr/1 lb. anchovies (or sardines or a fish of your choice), scaled, gutted, head & tail removed
- 2 medium potatoes, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 3 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 45 ml/ 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 fl. oz. / ½ cup water
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to taste (optional)
- Combine the onions, spring onions, parsley and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Knead well with your hands to infuse the spices to the onion; this will also soften them and release their juice.
- Parboil (partially cook) the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 – 7 minutes then drain the water.
- Stir in the parboiled potatoes to the onion mixture and combine well.
- Layer the onions and potatoes on a wide, heavy pan.
- Lay the anchovy fillets (or the fish of your choice) evenly on top of onions and potatoes.
- Next layer the slices of tomatoes and lemon over the fish. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste.
- Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil over and pour in the water to the pan.
- Cover and start cooking over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Then lower the heat and cook for 15 -20 minutes (depending on the size of the fish), or until fish and vegetables are cooked.
- Serve hot with some crusty bread aside if you like.
Dear Özlem this Anchovy Stew looks so tasty I could just di into the screen of my computer to help myself to such a delicacy! I have the best memories of eating hamsi in Istanbul but never as a stew. I will probably try this with sardines which we have in abundance here.
Merhaba Barbara, lovely to hear from you. Sardines would work well in this stew; I really enjoy it as the strong fish flavors balanced with the vegetables – and always enjoy dipping my bread over the sauce! Hope you enjoy it, Ozlem x
Hamsi jam??? Seriously?
Indeed! Also just spotted this hamsi/anchovy pudding with nuts, jelly and fruit, from Rize, here is the link – sky is the limit!:) http://www.nepisirsem.com/resimliyemektarifi.aspx?yemekid=445
Özlem, This is the best hamsi buğulama recipe I’ve seen yet. I’ve made it before but usually with just tomatoes, onions, herbs and lemon. Love the addition of the potatoes. Thanks! I just happen to have some cleaned hamsi in the freezer so it’ll be on the menu this week. Selamlar.
Merhabalar SD, always so lovely to get your comment, thank you! Glad you enjoyed the bugulama; this is the way my mother makes hers and with the addition of potatoes, it makes a complete meal. We like having all the juice of bugulama, really hope you enjoy it. Afiyet olsun, cok selamlar, Ozlem
I know a number of people who hate anchovies but I think they’re a wonderful little fish. I’ve never eaten them in this kind of dish before but I think it sounds lovely. Not too much washing up either.
It is a strong flavor, though I do love anchovies – especially in this dish with vegetables, it balances the flavors well. And you’re right, it is easy on the washing : )