A Taste From The Deep: Turbot

Although the anchovy leaps to mind, the turbot is the true king of the Black Sea.  Calmly and quietly, it has conquered the depths. Once abundant in all Turkey’s waters but especially in the Black Sea, this popular fish is a boon for fishermen when the nets are drawn in, because for a long time it has topped the list as the world’s priciest catch.
The dignified turbot shuns movement and adapts itself to the rhythm of life, swaying slowly, coyly and elegantly in the depths when necessary.
With its placid dignity, this fish is actually misnomer in Turkish. Rumor has it that its flat body was once likened to a soldier’s shield, hence the name ‘Kalkan’ in Turkish, meaning shield. In an encouraging development for the future of this flavorful fish, however, baby turbot in particular has recently been protected from trawling.
A repository of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, the turbot is a tasty fish with firm, bright white flesh. This scaleless, slightly fatty fish is distinguished from its fellow creatures in the world’s other waters by its soft brown skin and spiky buttons. Turbot season in the Black Sea commences with the end of February and the rise in temperature traditionally associated with the falling of the three ‘cemre’ of Turkish folklore. Starting its journey down the cold currents of the Bosphorus, the turbot is fattened up and acquires its characteristic taste in this season.
Eating and cooking the turbot are separate pleasures. Pan-fried, steamed, grilled, baked, served cold in a stew with olive oil, even cooked in a tandouri oven, turbot makes a veritable feast. Its flesh, which remains white however it is cooked, is redolent of the deep sea and melts in the mouth. It’s time to turn over a new leaf in the preparation of turbot and confront the old regulars with some innovative recipes.


450 g turbot filets (3 pieces)
5 small radishes, thinly sliced, 4 tender young carrots, 1 leek, thinly sliced 5 green olives, thinly sliced, 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced, 1 tsp sea salt, pinch of ground white pepper, 50 ml fish stock, 1 lemon rind, thinly sliced, 50 ml olive oil, 30 ml sunflower oil, 4-5 springs onions, finely sliced 4-5 springs fresh thyme. 

Saute the vegetables in the sunflower oil for  4-5 minutes until slightly tender. Add the fish stock. Add a portion of the salt and pepper and mix. Set aside the slightly cooked vegetables to cool. Arrange the turbot pieces on a large sheet of waxed paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauteed vegetables over the fish and drizzle with olive oil. Fold over and close the waxed paper and cook in a pre-heated 170° C. oven for 15-20 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, open the waxed paper and sprinkle with the sliced green onion and thyme leaves before serving.


200 g filet of turbot, 100 g boneless filet of turbot, 70 ml cream, 1/2 tsp salt, pinch of black pepper, 70 g tarhana (homemade Turkish dried soup), lemon sauce as a dip.

Cut the 200 g turbot filets into 8 cm long slices and let stand in the refrigerator.  Place the boneless turbot in a blender with the salt, pepper and cream and purée. Dip the sliced turbot filets in this mixture, then in the tarhana and fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with the lemon sauce as a dip.