Precious Gifts From The Sea Swordfish & Turbot
FISH AND SEAFOOD MAKE UP THE LION’S SHARE OF WILD FOOD SOURCES IN THE WORLD. AMONG THEM SWORDFISH AND TURBOT ARE TWO SPECIES THAT INSPIRE GOOD COOKING.
Nowadays when the notion of healthy eating is gaining currency around the world, fish heads the list of recommended foods. But the future of this increasingly important source of nutrition is unfortunately not very bright.
Nor have swordfish and turbot, which are some of Turkey’s most quality and tasty fish, escaped this dire fate. What’s more, despite their swords and shields (the Turkish for turbot is ‘kalkan’, which also means ‘shield) these threatened creatures are in no position to wage a struggle.
WHITE KNIGHT OF THE SEA, THE SWORDFISH
The swordfish, to my mind the white knight of fish, is one of Istanbul’s most magnificent migrant species. But, perceiving that it was defenseless, it abandoned our waters some 60-70 years ago.
Despite an aggressive appearance due to its powerful body and shape, it is a gentle fish. Indeed, when it realizes it has been caught in a net, it surrenders with honor rather than thrashing futilely about like other members of the fish family.
Its flesh is firm because it is extremely agile despite its immense size. Consequently it offers an outstanding mix of white- and red-fleshed fish flavors.
The historical sources show that in Thrace especially swordfish was traditionally cooked with unripe grapes, because their season coincides with the months when swordfish is also at its best.
A PERENNIAL FAVORITE, THE TURBOT
A body of water rich in the nutrients fish need to live, the Black Sea is a veritable fish paradise. And Black Sea turbot is without a doubt the most favored fish of Istanbul cuisine, not to be compared with its counterparts in other parts of the world.
There is a widespread belief that the male of the turbot is more flavorful than the female. But the facts do not bear this out and it is actually the female that reaches larger proportions, its higher oil content making it even tastier than the male.
PICKLED SWORDFISH WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND ‘LOR’ CHEESE
100 g swordfish, 20 g ‘lor’ (a creamy whey cheese), 1 tbsp fresh pomegranate juice and seeds, 1 tbsp olive oil, green stalks of one scallion, salt, pepper.
Place sheets of stretch foil under and over the swordfish and pound flat to a thickness of 2-3 millimeters. Remove to a serving platter and sprinkle with salt, pepper, pomegranate seeds and crumbled ‘lor’ cheese. Drizzle with pomegranate juice and olive oil. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and serve cold.
GRILLED TURBOT WITH SAFFRON (1 PERSON)
300 g turbot, 1/8 cup olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 2 g saffron, salt, pepper, lettuce, red onion.
Soak the saffron threads in the lemon juice, then rub the liquid on the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let stand for 10 minutes. Brush with olive oil and grill until done. Serve hot with plain boiled potatoes, shredded lettuce and a slice of red onion.
SWORDFISH STEW WITH SHALLOTS AND PICKLED PEPPERS (4 PERSONS)
600 g swordfish,
50 g pickled peppers,
50 g shallots, 1 bay leaf, 50 g Calamata olives,
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, salt, pepper, 1 cup fish stock, 10 cherry tomatoes, 1/8 cup olive oil.
Slice the swordfish into 1-cm steaks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute the shallots in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the pickled peppers, Calamata olives (pitted) and cherry tomatoes (halved) and sauté 2-3 more minutes. Add the fish stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Then add the fish and parsley, cover tightly and cook for 5 minutes. Serve piping hot.