Hamsi Season

Istanbul is my place.

I always wait impatiently to pack my bag and land at Ataturk Airport. This is the place116
that mesmerizes me with its organized chaos, crazy drivers, highly demanding housewives, imams calling to prayers, service and food. Before the trip I plan my meals in the tiniest details, waiting for my taste buds to be thrilled, yet again. I could write several pages about mezes, raki, baklava with Antepean pistacios, Türk kahvesi, almonds, Mado icecream, etc., but this post will be about one specific dish.

Period of October to March is the best time to have hamsi, and also my favourite season. The fall marks time when small anchovies find their way to fishing nets by the Black Sea coast, and filling tables across the entire country. The colder it gets, the fatter and tastier the hamsi get. Cheaper too!

Fried hamsi

My usual Saturday afternoons during “hamsi season” look exactly the same. The Other Me and I walk to the local fishermen stand where we find fresh catch of the day and farm selection. They offer all kinds of beautiful fish, snapper, red mullet, sea bass, sea bream, sole, octopus, shrimps and much more, which I wholeheartedly ignore each time and walk straight to a bowl full of juicy and fat hamsi. Price range is from 15 to 5 TL per kilo depending on the catch. If you add 5 TL to this, local restaurant will fry it for you.

After the traditional greetings have been exchanged, 2 kilos land on the side table ready to be cleaned, and then moved to a frying pan. 20 minutes and one cay later, box with steaming fish waits to be grabbed.

The way I have it is directly from the box eating by hand and with a glass of cold raki. Always in the company of same hamsi crazies as me.

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