How to Make Hamsi Tava - Turkish Pan-Fried Anchovies Recipe
In Turkey’s Black Sea region where the tiny anchovies known as hamsi are most abundant, the arrival of autumn, winter and early spring means a festive time for anchovy eaters.
The Black Sea anchovies are small, slender, silvery and inexpensive fishes that are very well loved among the Turks. They may be just tiny fishes but when a hamsi tava is prepared in a Turkish kitchen, its irrisistible aroma lingers quite long enough for someone to realize that someone is pan-frying anchovies nearby.
Hamsi tava is just one of the many delicious ways that anchovies are prepared and cooked in Turkey. And yet, it's also the most popular and best enjoyed among the Turkish locals especially in Istanbul as it is very simply prepared by lightly coating or dusting the fishes with corn flour and pan-fried.
Below is a hamsi tava recipe right from a Turkish kitchen:
- 1 kg fresh anchovies
- 300 gr corn flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola, corn or sunflower oil)
- a pinch of pepper
- Wash all the anchovies under cold running water. Remove its guts and heads carefully so to prevent the fishes from absorbing too much oil. Once thoroughly cleaned, drain and set aside.
- Mix corn flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, crack the egg in and beat lightly using a whisk or fork.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, pour some vegetable oil – about 2-3 tablespoons and heat it up slowly over medium low heat.
- Take two anchovies at a time by holding them firmly from the tails. Dip in the lightly beaten egg and roll them over in the cornflour mixture. Shake the small fishes off slightly to remove excess flour. Place the anchovies directly in the pan of preheated oil over low heat.
- Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the anchovies as quick as you can as the oil is heating up while at the same time arranging all the fishes in the pan side by side with tails joined together in the center to form a circle. This can be done with the help of a fork or spatula.
- After all the fishes are in, adjust the temperature to medium heat and start frying the anchovies for about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the other side is done, flip all of them over carefully with a spatula. You may also do this with the help of a round plate and turning them all up side down quite as quick as you can. In Turkey, this is how it’s usually done, though it takes a little practice to turn over the whole group of fried anchovies with a plate.
- Cook the other side for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Repeat all of the above procedure to cook the rest of the anchovies.
After all of the fishes are cooked, place them on a plate garnished with lemon wedges. This side dish is typically eaten with ekmek, a kind of Turkish bread served with freshly sliced onions and a bowl of green salads.
Afiyet olsun! (Have a good appetite!)
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