The Best Fish in Turkey

fish in turkey

Turkey is a country surrounded by seas on 3 sides, so fish has a big place in Turkish food culture. The Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea have their own unique characteristics, which is a good advantage for the variety of seasonal fish in Turkey.

Let’s take a look at the best seasonal fish in Turkey, their popularity and how to serve fish dishes made with them.

Sea Bass

Sea bass and sea bream are among the most popular fish in Turkey and are a must on fish restaurant menus in Istanbul.

While specialty farmed sea bass is available year-round, Turkey’s freshest sea bass can be found in fish markets from late May to September.

Most chefs in Turkey have their own sea bass recipe. Apart from grilled sea bass, one of the most spectacular dishes is to roast the whole fish in a thick salt mold and serve it on the fire.


Bluefish is one of the most common fish used in fish dishes in Turkish cuisine and is best caught between August and December. The best bluefish come from the Bosphorus, but they are also caught off the Marmara and Aegean coasts.

Since bluefish is so popular in Turkey, you can often find it served in restaurants in Istanbul. Since it is already delicious, they prefer to simply cook it on the grill with a little olive oil and spices.


Bonito is a type of fish that is best caught from mid-September to December. The best bonito are the firm, dark colored ones. Bonito is very popular in fish restaurants because of its high fat content, great taste and a great source of Omega 3.


Sardines are one of Turkey’s most beloved and popular fish. Sardines from Gallipoli are considered the best sardine surroundings. They are in season from August to November.

Sardines in Turkey vary in size and are cooked in many different ways; canned, pickled, fried, baked and grilled. Perhaps the most traditional and delicious way is to wrap them in vine leaves and then throw them on the grill. Served with lemons, a delicious seasonal salad and a slice of bread, the flavor is excellent.


If you happen to be in Turkey during anchovy season, you must try it! Turkish people love fresh anchovies and from December to March, street stalls, restaurants and even fine dining establishments are full of these delicious little gems. The best anchovies are said to come from the Black Sea, but they can be smaller.

Anchovies are meticulously cleaned and prepared. They are served in many different ways; crispy fried, made into soup, served over a pilaf or salad, topping pizzas, or even eaten between bread.

Mullet (Kidney Bean)

The Red Mullet lives in the deep, cool waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean and is edible from late February to July.

In Turkey, a dish called “Kidney Bean Pilaki” is the most revered dish, although some only squeeze a little lemon on fried Red Mullet. Pilaki is prepared in Turkey and Greece using garlic, tomatoes, carrots and fresh herbs and is a traditional dish. This dish is quite delicious as it allows the fish to cook in its own juices. In Turkey you can find many other variations of Pilaki, some use beans, chickpeas or meat.

Coral Fish

Locally known as “summer fish”, coral has a pale pink flesh, with a delicate flavor. They are a common fish in the Mediterranean, but the best ones come from the Aegean. They are in season from late May to July.
Corals are generally large fish, but the biggest is not the best and local chefs usually prefer average-sized fish.


Turbot appears in fish markets in Turkey every winter. It is a white fish from the sandy depths of the Black Sea.

Turbot is delicious both baked and grilled, and because of its firm texture, it is a wonderful fish when cut into strips and fried. It is also prepared very often, especially dipped in citrus sauce.

The above lists just a few of the best seasonal fish in Turkey, there are many more varieties throughout the year. If you would like to learn more about Turkish cuisine or ingredients, please follow Queb Rooftop‘s blog content.

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