Do you like fish? How do you like your fish cooked? We have a delicious and easy all-in-one-tray baked fish with vegetables this week. Fish is generally grilled or lightly fried in Turkey. “Balik & Ekmek”, is one of the most popular street foods at home, where the fisherman shallow fries the catch of the day at his boat and serves in our traditional white loaf, ekmek, with a slice of lemon by the side. A first bite of that fish sandwich, especially if you are by the Bosphorus or anywhere by the coast, is just heavenly.
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.
It is the palamut or bonito, as well as lufer (blue fish) season in Turkey at the moment; please check out A Seasonal Cook in Turkey’s lovely post on these seasonal fish in Turkey.
We Turks also like baking the fish with vegetables; the wonderful juices of the vegetables and lemon juice make a refreshing, delicious sauce. We very much enjoyed this baked haddock with red onions, peppers, tomatoes cooked in olive oil, with bay leaves and capers recently; the flesh has been succulent and moist, and delicately flavored with bay leaves. I added a handful of capers for an extra zing, the flavors complemented each other beautifully. As the fish is baked with vegetables together, you have a delicious, healthy meal ready in about 45 minutes, a precious extra bonus!
This baked fish and vegetables dish is also delicious made with a variety of fish, such as bonito, trout, salmon, sea bass or mackerel. The squeeze of lemon to the finished dish gives an extra zing and a refreshing flavor.
How about finishing the meal with a sweet note? These caramelized dried apricots with walnuts stuffing may just fit the bill : )
This recipe is adapted from The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Basan, one of my favorite Turkish cookery authors.
Baked haddock with tomatoes, red onion, peppers, capers and bay leaves
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes Cooking time: 40-45 minutes
4 fillets of haddock –or any filleted fish of your choice
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, cut in half lengthways and sliced
1 green and 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut in half lengthways and sliced (you can also use chillies for a spicy flavor)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
4 dried bay leaves (or 6-8 fresh bay leaves)
2 tbsp capers in jar, its juice drained and rinsed
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt and ground black pepper to taste
I lemon, cut into wedges to serve
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4
Place the fish in a shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle them with sea salt and ground black pepper. Arrange the onions, tomatoes and peppers over and around the fish. Tuck the bay leaves around the fish and pour over the olive oil. Cover the dish with foil and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and stir in the capers and the parsley, give a gentle mix. Place the dish back to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes for the fish to brown slightly.
Serve hot with wedges of lemon squeezed over the fish and garnish each plate with the vegetables and bay leaves.