A mackerel and salad sandwich

Istanbul’s mackerel sandwiches (balik ekmek)

  • serves 2
  • Easy

A street-food favourite in Istanbul, these ciabatta sarnies are stuffed with fried mackerel, salad and a pomegranate molasses dressing for an easy lunch that's ready in just 20 minutes


Try these sensational stuffed mackerel sandwiches, then check out our Turkish manti, Turkish pide, classic Turkish meatballs and more Turkish-style recipes.

Walking along the Bosporus in Istanbul, one of the most iconic sights is that of people 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.

Recipe extracted from Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from the Eastern Mediterranean by Yasmin Khan (£26, Bloomsbury). Recipes are supplied by the publisher and not retested by us.



  • red onion ¼ small, sliced
  • ciabatta rolls 2, halved
  • mackerel fillets 2
  • olive oil
  • mint a small handful of leaves, roughly chopped
  • carrot ½, grated
  • rocket a large handful
  • tomato 1 ripe, finely sliced


  • extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp, plus more to serve
  • lemon juice 2 tbsp
  • pomegranate molasses 1 tbsp
  • sumac ¼ tsp
  • pul biber chilli flakes or other mild chilli flakes ¼ tsp
  • garlic ½ clove, bashed


  • Step 1

    Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar with ¼ tsp each of salt and black pepper. Seal, then shake vigorously and set aside for 5 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Put the onion in a shallow bowl, pour over the dressing (removing the garlic) and leave to marinate – this removes some of the onion’s astringency. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Heat the rolls in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly toasted.

  • Step 3

    Spoon a couple of teaspoons of the dressing over the fleshy side of the mackerel fillets, then season generously with salt. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the fillets, skin-side down, for 3-4 minutes. Once the skin has begun to crisp up, flip the fillets and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side until just cooked through. While the fish is cooking, put the mint, carrot and rocket in the bowl with the onion and toss well.

  • Step 4

    When the mackerel is ready, transfer the fish to a plate lined with kitchen paper and begin assembling the sandwiches. Drizzle the cut sides of the toasted rolls with extra-virgin olive oil, then layer on the mackerel, followed by the tomatoes with a pinch of salt, the carrots, then a couple of teaspoons of the dressing. Put on the tops of the rolls and serve.

Discover more mackerel recipes

A serving bowl of yellow mackerel curry with tomatoes and coriander

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 726
  • Fat 42g
  • Saturates 7g
  • Carbs 56.2g
  • Sugars 12.6g
  • Fibre 5.5g
  • Protein 28.1g
  • Salt 2.1g