Exploring San Diego


Cooking for Heart Health Month: Turkish Fish Stew, Balik Pilaki

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 20:26:32-05

(KGTV) — February is Heart Health Month, which means it's the perfect opportunity to take a step back and examine your diet.

Among one of the healthiest diets for the heart is the Mediterranean diet, filled with healthy fats and oils in a variety of delicious dishes.

Our friends at Luna Grill showed us how to cook up one of those dishes at home: Turkish Fish Stew, also known as “Balik Pilaki.”


The double deck Galata Bridge, spans the Golden Horn, a portion of the bosphorous waterway, which separates Turkey into its Asian and European parts. The Bosphorous is fed on both sides by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, creating a fish highway. On the upper level of the Galata, while the setting sun turns the towering mosques of Istanbul into silhouettes, fishermen stand shoulder to shoulder across the entire length of the bridge, filling their buckets with whatever fish is running that day. The bridge is full of life.

Locals cross to and fro, flowing as steadily as the water beneath their feet. Street hawkers peddle bait and baked goods. Fishermen bond with fishermen, sharing smokes and stories in between tending their lines. From the lower deck of the bridge, the scents of the tobacco cafes and the warm aromatic air of the wall to wall restaurants rise amidst the sounds of constant chatter.

OTHER RECIPES: Greek-style braised string beans

The energy of people and moving water and cooking and commerce and conversation all converge here. While most bridges are intended as a means of transport, this one is also a destination. Many of the fish caught here will be brought home to be prepared “Pilaki” style, meaning stewed with tomatoes, root vegetables, garlic, parsley, lemon and olive oil.

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds center cut salmon, skinless, boneless
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 large fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, slice ¼ inch thick
1 cup diced, peeled carrots
1 cup diced, peeled celery root
1 tablespoon chick pea flour
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup red wine
1 ½ cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup diced feta cheese
1/2 lemon

STEPS: Place salmon on cutting board. Slice crosswise into 1 inch thick strips. Add oil to large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, fennel, carrots and celery root. Cook 6 minutes, stirring often. Stir in chick pea flour to coat vegetables.

Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add tomatoes, garlic, wine, stock, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and thyme. Bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Add salmon, nestling pieces into the vegetables until barely covered with liquid. Return to very low simmer. Cover.

Cook 15 minutes or until salmon is slightly underdone. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with parsley and feta cheese. Squeeze lemon atop. Cover.

Cook 15 minutes or until salmon is slightly underdone. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with parsley and feta cheese. Squeeze lemon atop.