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Eck Kheng

Now I really must go to Turkey again!!!

eric havaby

Wow! With your description and David's photographs, I could actually smell the food.

I am so jealous! Excellent post.

marts aziz

Thank you. Beautiful.


Wow! The hamsi looks amazing!

Reminds me a lot like fresh 'ikan tamban' (as known by the malays). A more favoured species will be the 'ikan tamban setu'.

If I'm not wrong, in Malaysia, they usually sell the dried version. However I usually eat the fresh ones, innards removed but heads intact. Marinate with salt and tumeric and deep fry. Best eaten with 'nasi lemak'.

Something akin to this: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_n4FvZHKSd2A/TB7Cgj_DJAI/AAAAAAAAAgI/MxrrY4lGa9A/s1600/DSC_0566.JPG


My only experience of eating fish 'fresh from the sea' was in Damsui - where my father was born and in this restaurant of an owner who had some connection going back to my grandfather's generation. And the freshness and sweetness of the meat is just no comparison to anything you could get from the market. They actually tasted 'sweet'.

Robyn, one question - back to the 'It's a man's world" - were you the only woman lurking about 'again'? In some cultures - certainly in Chinese or Taiwanese - women are considered 'bad luck' at ports. I remember me and my friends were touring the Northern coast of Taiwan and a couple of fishermen saw us and shouted to this local friend - why the hell you bring these women here!! They weren't kidding!


"C'mon, eat!" - “来吃饭” :-D


Fried crispy anchovies (or other small fish) are absolutely delicious. I have never heard of anyone go to such lengths in search of anchovies but I totally understand. I am bit jealous...



julie @ meatlovessalt

oh my goodness, that looks so amazing! i love anchovies but most of the time it's coming out of a tin can. that anchovy pancake is just beautiful.

Çağla Yılmaz

I am from Blacksee,near the Sinop!I am very glad to find your blog and see this post about my hometown!I like Hamsi but it is so salty:)I prefer to eat "Hamsi buğulama".You should try next time in Turkey;)


Thanks everyone, for the nice words.

CT-I've never found really good, fresh anchovies in Malaysia. I also wonder if it is a different sort of anchovy. But that sounds like a wonderful preparation.

Three-cookies: we have gone to ridiculous lengths in the name of eating too many foods. ;-)

julie - I like them out of a tin can as well! But this is a whole other fish.

Çağla - a small world! How lucky you are to be from a hamsi town. What is hamsi buglama? I wonder if I can find it at a Black Sea restaurant in Istanbul....

Katy - yes I was, as I usually am once we get beyond Istanbul. Turks are unfailingly polite and I do seem to acquire an 'honorary man' status when we're out and about, so it was no issue. I do tend to step back a bit but Dave doesn't speak any Turkish so I have to be up front and center now and again. That's hilarious about your experience in Taiwan, BTW. Perhaps I have an honorary man status in Taiwan as well, bec. no one seemed particularly offended by my lurking about when we visited the bluefin port near Kaohsiung.

Josh Tuck

Great article you guys. It reminded me of the anchovy dishes we devoured in the towns of the Cinque Terre this past September on our trip to Italy.


It sounded the Malaysian sort of anchovy could be similar to the Taiwan sort. We would have cooked it either dried or marinated and fried too. One Chinese version (and free from soy sauce) – stir fried spicy tofu (bean curd)with dried anchovy. Nice!

Yes, white women are just people, not women – kidding:-) Where we went wasn’t a tourist spot, so you expected the fishermen to be less tolerant about ‘visitors’; it was probably the day they were due out to sea and they didn’t want any ‘bad luck’. I also seem to recall they were complaining about a color my friend wore, I think it was red. But in any case – locals expect you people ‘won’t know it’, so you won't offend if you won't know. It’s just sea superstitions – you have that in the West too – like a woman on board is bad luck that sort of thing because it angers the sea – except having a naked woman on board would calm the sea. Not kidding – google it, there are plenty.


Oh my, once again you make me want to go to Turkey asap! Those fish look amazing. I love anchovies too, all kinds, but especially the white ones cured in vinegar served in Spain and Italy.
Those fried ones you had remind me of the fried smelt my Sicilian grandmother used to make when I was a kid.

turkey's for life

We're yet to make it to the Black Sea regions but are determined to head there when it's hamsi season. Love the stuff! Looks like you've enjoyed more than your fill of it. :)
I've heard there's even a hamsi dessert in the Black Sea area(!) Did you see any evidence of it?


The pictures look amazing. And the anchovies look really good.


Eat Hamsi only at Blacksea, not at Istanbul.

As a person from Blacksea living at Istanbul, I eat Hamsi rarely at Istanbul. Their taste are different. For me Fish has two class; hamsi and others. Try next time "hamsi kuşu" / "hamsi bird".


I adore anchovies but have never had them fresh! Are they small enough to eat whole (bones and guts too)? I notice that someone is eating around the spines!


Oh! Now I really crave hamsi. I am Romanian and we call these little wonders "Hamsii" :).
Can't wait to have some by the Black Sea in Romania. Loved your post immensely!


what is it about your photos that even though i have been to some of the places you photograph- they make me want to go and discover those v same places - as if i had never been! utterly gorgeous. as always. happy new year to you and yours. x shayma


bravo you two - the post of 2011 thus far! :)

seriously though, i absolutely love this piece. there's so much depth of emotion in every sentence and yet it's completely unsentimental.

thanks so much for your wonderful writing robyn, and thanks for the beautiful pictures dave xxx


Wow. I was already missing hamsi really bad, being a Turkish expat and living in landlocked Switzerland, of all places. It is definitely my favorite fish, or actually it's a different category in itself in terms of distinctiveness and amount of flavor, not just "fish".

Again, just wow.


Wow, what a great post to mark the year 2011! Kudos to you two =) I'm a big fan of seafood and fish in particular takes a special place in my heart. Thanks for the wonderful introduction to the world of anchovies, it really gave me a good reason to visit Turkey!


Robyn, so much about superstition; it just occur to me, your ‘fish quest’ first of the year is a sign of good luck! You know the Chinese tradition to have a fish dish in the New Year, the Chinese idiom called 年年有餘 (nián nián yǒu yú) and 魚 (fish) and 餘 have the same pronunciation.

Chinese created 年年有"魚", which means there's "fish" every year (to eat). 年年有"餘", means there's “leftover money” every year (to spend). Though the original word, left side means’ food’, right side means ‘I’ – together means “always food for me to eat”.

Thought you might like that $$$!


this is one of my favorite post from you guys.

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