Traditional Food of Trabzon: Hamsi

Traditional Food of Trabzon: Hamsi

Traditional Food of Trabzon: Hamsi

Traditional Food of Trabzon: Hamsi

On the shores of the Black Sea, Trabzon is one of the most prosperous cities in Turkey. Receiving a fair amount of attention due to its location over the silk road throughout history, Trabzon saw the rule of many different empires and cultures. Its mesmerizing views, historical sites, and delicious tastes are some of the refined aspects that make Trabzon special. Among many things, the cuisine of Trabzon is filled with exceptional flavours of the Black Sea, Caucasus, and Anatolia. With a rich presence of fish products and much more in its cuisine, there are many foods to taste in Trabzon. City’s mascot and most known food is ‘’hamsi’’ – which is Turkish for anchovy. Hamsi is a type of anchovy fish generally found on the shores of the Black Sea. As Trabzon is one of the leading fish sources for Turkey, hamsi is the fish signifying the value of Trabzon. Many different meals are made using hamsi, combining different tastes of Turkish culture with this small fish.

About Trabzon

Part of the Black Sea region, Trabzon is Turkey’s 27th most populated province. Located between the Black Sea and East Black Sea Mountains, Trabzon is made out of 18 districts. The second biggest city in the Black Sea Region, Trabzon has been called “The City of Şehzades” and “Little Istanbul” during the Ottoman reign.

The history of Trabzon dated way back to the 7th century BC and had a rich presence of Romans and Greeks until the 19th century. With the support of people in Trabzon in the war against Mithridates, it was able to gain the status of a free city during Roman reign. Functioning as a trade hub and naval power with its big ports, the Empire of Trebizond was a provincial power. As with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, Trabzon received significant attention and was the principal city of the Black Sea region. With an excess amount of the Greek population, Trabzon flourished as many sons of Sultans were sent there to finish their education.

After the decline of the Ottomans and the foundation of the Turkish Republic, the general population of Trabzon mostly consisted of people of Turkish and Caucasian origin. With the establishment of Turkey, Trabzon maintained its importance and is still one of the most important cities of the country. 


Consumed by everyone in Turkey, hamsi is a unique and traditional product of the Trabzon cuisine. This fish has its everlasting place in the tables of Trabzon cuisine, with different food variations made out of it. Even though hamsi could be eaten just by frying it, many delicious foods consist of hamsi. Hamsi is an ingredient in many pilavs, böreks, pides, poğaças, special breads, meatballs, as well as some desserts, even sometimes hamsi is pickled. With the significant existence of hamsi in Trabzon culture, this delicious little fish is used everywhere. The most consumed version of hamsi is generally fried in a pan with the help of additional cornflour. Even such an easy type of dish can reach incredible levels of taste. Apart from the simplistic way of hamsi, let us take a closer look at some of the best dishes you can find it as the main ingredient.

Hamsi Pilav

The combination of rice and fish will provide you the levels of taste that you wouldn’t imagine. Turkish cuisine is filled with high-quality delicious buttered pilavs, and hamsi pilav is a must to try dish.

Hamsi Meatball

It could sound a bit awkward, but meatball made out of hamsi is commonly prepared by the people of Trabzon and should be tried by everyone who pays a visit to this city. Hamsi meatballs can be easily made with a fantastic mixture of flour, vegetables, and spices.

Hamsi Soup

A necessary element of Turkish tables, soup even has its version of hamsi. This healthy and delicious soup filled with           tomatoes and onions along with the rich presence of hamsi, is commonly consumed by the people of the Black Sea. If you ever find yourself in the cold breeze of the Black Sea, make sure to try this soup.