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Tag Archives | balik & ekmek

Boreks, Simit, Turkish Breakfast and More – Some of My Favorite Turkish Treats & How to Re-create Them

Living abroad, there are certain Turkish food, especially the Turkish street food, places (and of course, people) that I dearly miss – and I am sure it is the same for many of you, who live outside of your homeland.

The Bosphorus, cruising through Sea of Marmara in ferries, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia - some of my favorite things in Istanbul

Once settled down at your “new home”, the feeling of  missing replaces itself with “how to recreate these treats in your new home phase”. This is how I started blogging about my homeland, Turkey, and Turkish food, and I am grateful to have a chance to connect and share the many wonderful things my homeland offers with you. I am delighted to see that we can recreate many of our favorite food, with a little substitution or tweak here and there.

Patatesli & peynirli borek; filo pastry rolls with cheese and potato

Take the boreks; one of my favorite parts of Turkish cuisine, the stuffed, filled pastries. Traditionally, we would use the fresh, paper thin sheets of pastry, yufka, widely available at home. Living in England, I cannot get yufka, but the filo pastry sheets you can get at the supermarkets work as a good substitution to make boreks. One thing to bear in mind that they can get dry easily, and that you need to keep them moist with a damp cloth over them, while working. Here is a good demo on handling filo pastry.

Borekci, borek shops in Turkey sell all kinds of freshly made savory pastries with different fillings, one of my favorite stops!

We use different kinds of fillings for our boreks; some with leek and cheese, some with potato, cheese and parsley, onion and ground meat and many more. You can bake these pastries using filo pastry sheets ahead of time, and leftovers can be frozen successfully. My children love these boreks;  if frozen, grease a baking tray and place them on the tray. Then reheat in the oven at 180C/350 F for about 15-20 minutes. They magically appear on the table and are gone very quickly!

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are the ultimate Turkish street food.

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are another favorite. With a cup of cay -Turkish tea-, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese by the side, they are the ultimate Turkish breakfast for me . And yes, you can bake your own sesame encrusted, golden rings, simit, easier than you think : )

The wonderful Turkish breakfast with simit, cay, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, olives, cheese, eggs with Turkish sausage, sucuk, honey and favorite meal of the day!

And, a leisurely Turkish breakfast shared with friends and family by the Bosphorus is simply unbeatable, for me.

Balik & ekmek, Turkish grilled (or lighly fried) fish sandwich is another delicious street food at home. Fisherman prepare the catch of the day in their boats; a simple grill with salad, slices of onion on a fresh loaf of bread; just wonderful.

Fisherman preparing "balik&ekmek" in a traditional boat in Golden Horn, Istanbul

I re-created my version of balik ekmek with a delicious, refreshing piyaz salad with sumac, onion rings, parsley and tomatoes by the side – all I need to do is to I close my eyes and visualize myself to be by the Bosphorus in Istanbul!

Grilled fish sandwich goes so well with the refreshing piyaz salad of onion rings, tomato and parsley with sumac dressing.

Turkish delight, lokum with rose water, pistachios, walnuts, or plain – sade -; all delicious treats.

Fragrant, melt in the mouth Turkish delight is another treat I dearly miss – my children prefer Turkish delight over chocolate! – Then, you find a way to re-create it, and delighted to see that this Turkish delight recipe works really well! It is a wonderful treat to make for your friends and family for special occasions.

Fragrant, home made Turkish Delight, easier than you think.

I hope you can have a go and start re-creating any of your favorite food from your homeland; it is easier than you think, and can be really rewarding too.

Cooking together with participants at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

One way of getting in to re-creating your favorite dishes maybe attending a cookery workshop and see at firsthand how to break down the recipes and follow them. Many of participants attended my cooking classes expressed how pleasantly surprised that they can make the dishes easily and the experience was inspirational. My next Turkish cooking class in Istanbul Culinary Institute will be on Feb 19th 2013.

I am also grateful to be able to connect some wonderful bloggers who blogs about Turkey, Turkish cuisine and its people, with wonderful, inspirational photos and insights. Here are some of them that regularly follow and get a wonderful dose of home:

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: Claudia’s delicious blog follows the seasonal produce in Turkey with wonderful market photos. Claudia also does great Old City Walks with Istanbul Eats, be sure to check out.

Entrance of Misir Carsisi, Spice Market - Istanbul; a foodie heaven.

Turkey’s for Life, Turkish Travel Blog  and Archers of Okcular  feed us with fabulous photos, stories, news around Turkey, they are a joy to follow! My Turkish Joys is another lovely blog, with wonderful recipes and travel photos from home. Joy is also a brilliant pastry chef and know all things about pastry, so be sure to check her blog out.

Let the children guide you in Antakya; they are always happy to help.

Like many things, it is the human factor, friendly people; a warm smile, hospitality that makes a place special that makes us to go back there again and again. I think that sums up my homeland for me.

A local in Pergamum, selling region's delicious honey and pine nuts - and letting us have a little sample:)

Last but not least, I am also very grateful for your company to share a dose of home with me, following my blog, your comments and feedback; they are very precious, thank you very much. I hope these photos and information inspires you to explore Turkey, have a go at the recipes to treat yourself and family, friends.

A glass of cay by the Bosphorus = happiness 🙂

Afiyet olsun & happy travels to you all,


Sharing a delicious feast in Antakya during my culinary tour in 2009.

If you would like to join us and explore Turkey from a local’s perspective in my next culinary and cultural tour in April 2013 please contact me.


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Grilled Fish on Sourdough Bread with Sumac Salad – Balik Ekmek

One of the most popular street foods at home is grilled (or lightly fried) fish, served between slices of our traditional white loaf. Fishermen grill the fish at their boats and prepare this sandwich right there for you; with a breeze from the Bosphorus and view of boats passing by, that first bite is just heavenly.

Fishing with a view; fishermen by the edge of the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara, overlooking the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Turkey is bounded by the sea on three sides – the Mediterranean,Aegeanand the Blacksea. 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.


Well, my inspiration for this easy and delicious grilled fish served over crunchy sourdough bread with capers & herb mayonnaise came from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage TV series;  I love their fresh, no fuss intake on food and making the most of seasonal ingredients. I tweaked their recipe with my sumac dressed red onion, tomato and parsley salad. The citrusy, tangy sumac really goes well with the grilled fish.

 Baked fish with sumac piyaz and capers with mayo on bread 026 with OTTBaked fish with herb mayonnaise and sumac salad over sourdough bread

I hope you have a go at this easy, delicious fish sandwich (Balik Ekmek, as we say it in Turkish) with the refreshing sumac salad. Haddock fillets, mackerel, sea bass, cod or sardines would especially work well here. If you’re not a big fan of bread, boiled potatoes by the side is excellent too.

This delicious fish recipe along with over 90 scrumptious and healthy Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My HomelandSigned copies are available to order at this link for a limited period, if you’d like a copy for yourself or gift to a foodie.

Grilled Fish on Sourdough Bread with Herb Mayonnaise, served with Sumac, red Onion and Tomato salad; “Balik Ekmek ” with a twist

 Serves 4   

Preparation time: 20 minutes               Cooking time:15-20 minutes (please check                                              the suggested cooking time for the fish of your choice)

4 fillets of white fish of your choice (mackerel, haddock fillets work well)

10ml/1bsp olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Slices of sourdough bread to serve

Slices of gem lettuce, washed, to serve

For mayonnaise with capers & parsley:

20-30ml/2-3 tbsp of good quality mayonnaise (you can use light version if you like)

20ml/2tbsp baby capers, rinsed

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

For Red Onion, Tomato and Parsley Salad with Sumac:

1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

A handful of flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped

30 ml/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

5 ml/1 tsp ground sumac

Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4

Grease the baking tray with a little olive oil (or line aluminium kitchen foil on a baking tray then grease, for the ease of cleaning). Place the fillets of the fish, drizzle a little olive oil over them. Coat the fish with the seasoning and bake or grill for the required amount (please refer to the cooking instructions for the fish of your choice).

Capers and parsley work well with mayonnaise

While the fish is cooking, make the herb mayonnaise with capers. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chopped parsley and the rinsed baby capers. Drizzle with a little olive oil; your herb mayonnaise is ready.

Tangy sumac flavors red onions, tomatoes and parsley beautifully and the salad is excellent with the grilled fish.

Tangy sumac flavors red onions, tomatoes and parsley beautifully; this salad is excellent with the grilled meat and fish.

For the sumac salad; work the salt and sumac into the onion slices with your hands really well in a bowl. This will soften the onions, make them more palatable and let the sumac really penetrate to the onions. Add the chopped tomatoes, parsley, juice of lemon and extra virgin olive oil into the bowl and combine well. Season with ground black pepper; your salad is ready to go.

Piyaz; lovely, refreshing salad with red onions, tomatoes, parsley with sumac and olive oil dressing

Piyaz; lovely, refreshing salad with red onions, tomatoes, parsley with sumac and olive oil dressing

Once the fish is baked, slice the sourdough bread (you can toast the bread if you like too.) Spread a thin layer of the herb mayonnaise over the bread and place a cooked fish fillet over it. Then place a spoonful of the sumac salad over the bread. You can add the gem lettuce and another slice of bread over the top. Or you can simply enjoy as an open fish sandwich with one slice of bread. The sumac salad is also lovely served on the gem lettuce slice.

Balik ekmek; Open fish sandwich with herb mayonnaise and sumac, red onion and tomato salad

Balik ekmek; Open fish sandwich with herb mayonnaise and sumac, red onion and tomato salad

Afiyet Olsun!


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