The bustling Mediterranean Turkish port of FETHIYE offers fish lovers a wide variety of culinary delights and in our three part series we will help you to translate the names so you choose the right fish, get it cooked to perfection and eat it the way the locals do.

Fethiye Fish Market
Fethiye Fish Market

Not just for Friday

A fish feast for lunch or dinner is for many people an integral part of any visit to Fethiye but not everyone is aware of the wonderful local varieties on offer, most of which are caught by small-scale fishermen along the Muğla coast.

Bon apetit or, as we say here, Afiyet olsun!

Sea bass or sea bream are the two varieties of fish the usually spring to mind when thinking about what to buy from Fethiye’s fish market but there are also some delicious local varieties of fish with Turkish names of which foreign visitors to the market will probably not have heard.

Season – January to April

In this article, we would like to introduce you to the ones on sale at this time of year, if you haven’t tried them before, and if you have, to remind you of how tasty and simple to cook, they are.

Don’t forget that the fishmongers will prepare them for you at no extra cost and of course, if you don’t want to cook them at home you a can always ask one of the restaurants that surround the fish stalls, to cook them for you!

How to eat?

Well, we use our fingers and make use of a water bowl and large napkin… but it’s really up to you.

Lola (also known as gopez)

Tasty lopa - straight from the sea
Tasty lopa – straight from the sea

With the rather amusing official name, Boop boops, this fish comes in various sizes, and when prepared (gutted and with their heads removed), dipped in seasoned flour and grilled or fried in a light olive oil, they make a simply delicious and very economical feast when served with a fresh salad and bread to mop up the juices.

The larger ones can be barbequed too.

Larger lopa - great for barbecuing
Larger lopa – great for barbecuing

İstavrit

Usually from Marmara or the Black Sea, horse-mackerel (same family as tuna) also come in different sizes – kıraca istavrit are the smallest and when cooked in the same way as hamsi are just as delicious.

small istavrit
small istavrit

Mezgit (sometimes called Bakaleros)

Mezgit
Mezgit

This is pollack – a very versatile white fish that can probably best be described as bearing the closest resemblance to a northern European fish and it’s the one that is often substituted for haddock or cod when served up as fish and chips.

A row of fine mezgit
A row of fine mezgit

Sarpa

Sarpa (on the left) and Rascasse (details on how to cook will be in the second article)
Sarpa (on the left) and Rascasse (details on how to cook will be in the second article)

A fish enjoyed by Fethiye people with great relish, this fish can be cooked in the same way as lopa.

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