“Walking along the Bosporus in Istanbul, one of the most iconic sights is that of men standing at the side of the water behind small barbecues, grilling fresh mackerel for these tasty takeaway sandwiches that are best eaten staring out at the bobbing waters.

“My version substitutes grilling the fish for frying, but you can still cook these over coals at a barbecue if you’d prefer. They are a great way to feed a crowd,” says food writer Yasmin Khan.


“The salad ingredients here are just a rough approximation – I’ll leave it for you to judge exactly how much of each vegetable you want in your sandwich – just don’t skip the mint, or the dressing, as you need its sharpness and piquancy to cut through mackerel’s intense flavour.”

Mackerel sandwich
Mackerel sandwich (Matt Russell/PA)
Mackerel sandwich
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Istanbul’s famous mackerel sandwiches
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1114 Calories from Fat 540
% Daily Value*
Fat 60g92%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Polyunsaturated Fat 11g
Monounsaturated Fat 29g
Cholesterol 212mg71%
Sodium 697mg30%
Potassium 2131mg61%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 96g192%
Vitamin A 6714IU134%
Vitamin C 27mg33%
Calcium 128mg13%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Istanbul’s famous mackerel sandwiches

A super tasty fish sandwich
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Turkish
Servings: 2
Calories: 1114kcal


  • Empty jam jar
  • Shallow bowl
  • Frying pan


For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
  • 1/2 garlic clove bashed
  • Salt and black pepper

For the sandwich:

  • 1/4 small red onion or enough for 2–3 rings per sandwich, or to taste
  • 2 ciabatta rolls each cut to the size of a mackerel fillet
  • 2 mackerel fillets
  • Olive oil
  • 70 g carrot (about ½ medium carrot) grated
  • Small handful of mint leaves roughly chopped
  • Large handful of rocket
  • 1 ripe, juicy tomato finely sliced


  • Put all the ingredients for the dressing in an empty jam jar with a quarter teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Seal the jar, then shake vigorously and set aside for five minutes.
  • Place the red onion in a shallow bowl, pour over the dressing (removing the garlic) and leave to marinate. (This removes some of the onion’s astringency.)
  • Take a plate and cover it with kitchen paper, ready to soak up the oil from the mackerel later. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6 and cut the pieces of ciabatta in half. Pop the bread in the oven for five minutes, so it warms up and is lightly toasted.
  • Spoon a couple of teaspoons of the dressing over the flesh side of the mackerel, then season the fish generously with salt. Heat two tablespoons of regular olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mackerel, skin side down, and fry for three to four minutes. Once the skin has begun to crisp up, flip the fillets and cook for another one to two minutes on the other side, until just cooked through.
  • While the fish is cooking, place the mint, carrot and rocket in the bowl with the onion and toss well.
  • When the mackerel is ready, transfer the fish to the plate lined with kitchen paper and begin assembling the sandwiches.
  • Drizzle the toasted bread with good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Then layer the mackerel on to the bread, followed by the tomatoes with a pinch of salt added, then the carrot mixture, then a couple of teaspoons of the dressing. Pop the top layer of bread on the sandwich and eat immediately!


Calories: 1114kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 96g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 212mg | Sodium: 697mg | Potassium: 2131mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 6714IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 6mg

Ripe Figs: Recipes And Stories From The Eastern Mediterranean by Yasmin Khan, photography by Matt Russell, is published by Bloomsbury.

Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Khan, Yasmin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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