"Balık Ekmek" Istanbul Mackerel Sandwich
With banana blossom, sumac mayo & colourful veggies
When you visit Istanbul, or Turkey in general, you can’t go around the bustling quayside filled with food stalls. All selling the same thing: Balık Ekmek. It’s a simple sandwich, with barbecued mackerel and veggies, yet so delicious. That’s why we wanted to recreate it. But without using real fish. Here, the banana blossom comes in, as our favourite fish replacer. You’ll find it in any good (asian) supermarket. Make sure to get your hands on some good quality bread and play along with the veggies you garnish with.
2 cans of banana blossom
4 tablespoons white flour
4 nori sheets
2 baguette shaped loafs (or 4 smaller sized)
3 tablespoons (plant-based) mayonaise
3 tablespoons yoghurt (plant-based)
1 teaspoon dried sumac
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Fresh herbs & veggies to garnish (we used carrot, cucumber, radish, red onion and parsley)
White wine or rice vinegar
Salt, pepper, oil
Allright. Let’s start with the banana blossom. You want to take it out of the cans carefully, leaving the ‘fillets’ intact. Then, try to squeeze out some of the juice and pat try with some kitchen paper. Now, use a blender or kitchen machine to blitz up the nori sheets into powder. Mix that up with the white flour and a large pinch of salt (this is where you have to get all the seasoning into your “fish” fillets, so be generous). One at a time, place the banana blossom fillets into the mixture, and cover it all around. Then set aside.
Prepare all your toppings by slicing all your veggies up finely. Use a mandoline (carefully!) or practice your knife skills. We like to choose one or two veggies that we dress up with some vinegar, salt and pepper, to create some more freshness to the sandwich. To make the sumac mayo, mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt, dried sumac and chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper (and optionally a little squeeze of lemon juice).
Heat up a frying pan on medium high heat with a good glug of oil. Place the banana blossom fillets in the pan and cook on both sides until they are beautifully caramelized (if you want to go all out, drizzle some oil on the banana blossom fillets themselves and bang ’em on the barbecue instead).
Time to assemble the Balik Ekmek! Slice up your bread, whip in the sumac mayo, fresh veggies, banana blossom fillets and finally some fresh parsley. Time to share and enjoy!