Hamsi Rice

Hamsi – European Anchovy – is the signature item of the BlackSea region in Turkey, Northern coastal part. It is a little messy and troublesome type of fish but it tastes very good. Normally when you buy cooked Hamsi, you don’t take the bone out. But for this recipe I needed to clean out all the little fish myself and take the bones out. One is very easy but doing this for 30-40 fish, tends to get a little tiring.

Hamsi rice is one of the most known dishes of the BlackSea region. Only hard-core locals take the time to do this, but as always being someone who is always open to trying new things, I tried to make it my style. I prepared the rice a little unconventional but the general nature of the dish is loyal to the traditional.


  • 1/2 kg Hamsi (European Anchovy)
  • 1-2 cup rice
  • Saffron
  • Star anise
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parsley for garnish

First, start with cooking the rice pilaf. Cook a basic pilaf if you want, but I added some saffron and star anise in the cooking water of the rice to add some oriental flavors.

Meanwhile you can start cleaning out the fish. When you finish them all, you can line them in the pan you’re going to use. Try to line the sides first and the bottom later. But save some to cover the top too.

hamsi rice (2)

When the rice is done place the rice in the pan, and turn the fish on the sides inward. Finally place the remaining fish over the rice, try to cover every bit. Drizzle a little olive oil on the finished oven pan.

hamsi rice (3)

I used a, somewhat, deep dish but you can use a little less deep one so that with every bite you get more fish and less rice.

hamsi rice (4)

Put the dish in the oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until the fish on the top looks thoroughly cooked. Serve it hot and you can garnish with some parsley.,

hamsi rice (8)

I used and modified the recipe from here.

So here you go. Probably, when a real Blacksea local sees this, they would have some comments about it but you get the general idea. To see better results, you can search for ‘Hamsi Pilavi’ and see the amazing-ness that is this annoyingly small fish is. Enjoy.


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