fuss-free fish dinner

so, this was one of our best self-isolation meals yet!

our fish dinner this week is based on a loose interpretation of my paternal grandmother’s favorite method of preparing a smell-free, hassle-free fish dinner.

when i was growing up, cooking fish at home in istanbul was something my grandmother never really loved to do.  at the time, refrigeration options were less advanced and less available, so the fish sold at the fish monger was generally fresh off the boat.  most of the fish native to the seas near istanbul taste best either grilled (hard to do in a small apartment with a tiny balcony- and remember no gas grills back then either) or deep fried.  while deep frying was an option it was smelly and, honestly, generally ended up making a pretty big mess in the kitchen.

and so, my grandmother perfected the art of fish in the oven!

fresh fillets of white fish are cooked together with potatoes, onions and tomatoes making the dish a whole meal in and of itself… pair it with a fresh green salad and maybe a glass of wine and, voila! dinner is served 🙂


  • 3 medium sized potatoes-peeled and sliced in thin rounds
  • 3 green peppers-sliced in rounds
  • 1 large onion-also sliced in rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic-chopped
  • 3 tomatoes-chopped
  • ample parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medium sized fillets of white fish
    • we used a fish called “mezgit”; “whiting” in english it is from the cod family


  • preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius
  • spread olive oil in the bottom of a shallow oven proof baking dish
  • layer potatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and fish in the dish
  • spread tomatoes on top of layers and garnish with parsley
  • season as desired with salt, pepper and even a little red pepper
  • bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft
  • serve immediately

there is a turkih saying that “after fish one should eat something sweet”… i don’t know where it comes from or if there is a truth to it (turks also say that one should never eat fish and yogurt together which makes plenty of sense from a spoilability perspective!)

but i like the eating sweet saying so we almost always have dessert on fish days… this week we made a vegan chocolate sorbet that was delicious! you can find the recipe here.

easiest fish feast ever…

here in istanbul we are so fortunate to have fresh fish available almost all year round.

and going out to a fish restaurant for a nice glass of raki (sort of like greek ouzo); some delicious small meze dishes and a main course of fresh fish is a sunday tradition many families and friends enjoy tremendously.  i have to admit it is one of my favorite things to do too. especially as spring brings warmer and longer days; having a long leisurely lunch- or even early dinner- raising a glass with friends and enjoying some good conversation is a pretty perfect way to spend a sunday afternoon!

as with many things, the coronavirus pandemic has caused us to need to shift our reality.  meeting up with friends, going to restaurants, sharing a good meal- all of these have been put on hold for the time being.  and not only are we not going out at all to eat, but our kitchen is working at full capacity three times a day!

about 10 days into our social distancing efforts i realized we all needed a bit of a break; from cooking and from eating too! and so, a new tradition was born 🙂 once a week, on sunday afternoons, we share a larger meal for a late lunch and then the kitchen is closed.  fresh fruit, cereal, and sandwich fixing are always available for those who need a little something more but there is no more “cooking” that day.

this week we made an amazing steamed fish dish that everyone adored… it is too good and too easy not to share; as simple as it is to cook, it is equally tasty and fancy. it made for a special day even without having left the house!


  • 6 fillets of fresh fish (this week we had a white grouper that is native to the aegean area)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic-minced
  • a large handful of shallots- cut in half
  • 3 green peppers- chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes- chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ample parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • rinse fillets and set aside
  • in a large saucepan (with a lid) melt butter
  • add garlic, shallots and peppers and saute until softened
  • mix in tomatoes
  • add water and bring mixture to a light boil
  • place fish fillets in pan and reduce heat
  • season with salt, pepper, bay leaves and parsley
  • simmer with lid closed for 20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through- this may change according to the thickness of the fillets
  • serve immediately

we served our fish with some oven-baked new potatoes and a fresh green salad…