Fried Horse Mackerel - Istavrit balığı kızartması

The horse mackerel, also known in Turkey as istavrit is one of my favorite fishes to deep fry or just pan fry in winter. They are mostly at its best during the winter months when they are usually fat which makes them even more delicious. Besides that, they are mostly abundant in winter, especially within the early days of December to late January. And because they are at its peak, their abundance makes them very affordable when sold in the markets by the kilo. And unlike hamsi or anchovies which are typically small even when they are fat, the horse mackerel may come much bigger and fatter than the anchovies. More to that, you can buy more plentiful and cook more flavorful horse mackerel if you buy them in anytime between January to early February.

Here is how I enjoy my favorite horse mackerel in the quickest and easiest way that I can. Please check out my recipe provided below and maybe you, too might want to try it.  Enjoy! 

  • 1 kilogram horse mackerel or istavrit balığı
  • 1 cup corn flour 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil (you can use either canola, corn or sunflower oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Wash the Horse Mackerel thoroughly under cold running water. Remove its guts and heads, then wash them all over again. 
  2. Once thoroughly cleaned, drain the fishes and sprinkle some salt all over them. Then set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix corn flour, salt and pepper. 
  4. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs in and beat lightly using a whisk or fork.
  5. In a deep frying pan, pour in a cup of vegetable oil and heat over medium low heat.
  6. Take each horse mackerel at a time by holding them firmly from its tails. Dip each fish in the lightly beaten egg and roll it over in the corn flour making it thoroughly covered by the mixture.
  7. Shake each fish off slightly to remove excess flour and place it quickly right into the pan of heated vegetable oil. Do the same procedure with the rest of the fishes.
  8. Fry the corn-flour coated fishes over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes.
  9. Cook the other side for just a few minutes until they’re golden brown.
  10. When they are all done, place the fried fishes on a platter with paper towel (see photo above) so as to absorb its excess oil.
Serve immediately while hot with sliced onions, lemon wedges, and with a healthy bowl of grated carrots and fresh green salad.  Afiyet olsun! J

Note:  You can also pan-fry these fishes if you don’t want to use too much oil.  To do this, you may probably need to use a large non-stick frying pan so you can only pour about 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Then all you have to do is arrange the fishes side by side in the pan or close enough to accommodate more, just like how I pan fry hamsi or anchovies the Turkish way (check it out here - hamsi tava).  Now once the other side is done, turn them all over quickly on the other side with the help of a spatula and start pan-frying the other side again for just a couple of minutes or until they turn golden brown.

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