Aydin Demir’s Stuffed Mackerel Recipe
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Raki and Fish is a book, travelogue and exploration of a region that boasts some of the best fish restaurants, markets and chefs in the world.

Each chapter takes the reader on a journey through the back streets, kitchens, homes and fishing boats of some of the most vibrant Mediterranean cities.

Istanbul features largely in the book as do recipes that are synonymous with the atmospheric and epic city. One of Istanbul's most symbolic fish is mackerel and here we offer a delicious recipe to share with your favorite people.

(Serves 3)


  • 1 whole mackerel 250-300 g


  • 1 onion cut into half rings
  • 1 teaspoon pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 pods cardamom, shelled and ground
  • 3 cloves, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 sprigs parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 4 springs mint, coarsely chopped
  • 6 sprigs dill, coarsely chopped


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup  bread crumbs
  • 200 ml olive oil, for frying


  • 1 pickled beetroot
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 leaves of red leaf lettuce
  • 1 teaspoon pickled capers
  • 1 sprig parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 spring mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sprig dill, coarsely chopped

Prepare the filling:

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan,  adding the pine nuts and saute until lightly golden then add in the onions. After one minute, add the deboned flesh and season with spices and salt and pepper.  Add the hot water and cook for 3 minutes, then take off heat to cool before adding the remaining chopped herbs.

To fry and bake:

Stuff the fish with the filling then cover the outside of the fish, first in flour then beaten egg and finally roll in the bread crumbs.

To fry and bake the fish:

The olive oil in a pan and fry the fish until golden. Drain and place in a baking dish to bake at 200 C for five minutes.

To prepare beet and orange dressing:

Blend the beetroot, juice and olive oil to form a puree until completely smooth, this should take around 3 minutes. Then add lemon juice to taste.
Grate the orange and add the zest to a pan with the sugar. Constantly stir under the heat until it carameliz​es slightly, then add juice from the orange and allow to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place in the blender with 1/3 cup olive oil. Blend for 3 minutes till smooth, pour into a bowl.

Serve with a green salad and the beetroot and orange dressing.

Enjoy with your nearest and dearest.

Share, savour, enjoy!