Toric Lakerda

Ark of taste
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Torik Lakerda

Lakerda is a delicious way to cook and preserve Toric/Torik fish in salt, a seasonal fish from Şile area of the Marmara region caught from September to March. It is served as an aperitif in the winter months; it is thick and soft with a pleasant fishy aroma. The dorsal areas of this fish resemble a blue color, and the lateral and abdominal parts resemble a silver color. Its body is flattened from the sides and narrows down and up. It gives the image of a chubby fish with a thin and long tail that is available in the Black Sea, Marmara Sea and Bosphorus. From May to July is the most ideal time for breeding, and when the Toric fish reaches between 60 and 70 cm in length, it is the most ideal size for making Lakerda.
Lakerda is so popular and acceptable that the few remaining ethnic groups in Istanbul want to establish a kinship with Lakerda. While Sephardic people say that Lakerda is derived from ‘la kerida’ (the beloved one) with the legend of a Toledo fisherman, dictionaries write that the origin of Lakerda is Greek. According to some sources, the introduction of Laker fish to the regions of Thessaloniki, Istanbul, and the Aegean coast-dates back 500 years, when Jews migrated from the Iberian Peninsula to Ottoman lands. Today, Şile is known as the most productive and abundant fishing area for Toric fish, and bonito and Toric are sold all over Turkey under the name of the Şile region.
The Torik fish spends its last feeding period in the waters around Şile before crossing the Black Sea to the Bosphorus. This is the most productive time to make Lakerda by Torik. Since the salt content of the Black Sea is much lower than the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, Torik is more delicious when fished in the Black Sea. Excess of salt can change the tissue and taste of the fish. When the Toric reaches length of 60-70 cm and 5-6 kg weight during on November- January , it becomes the most ideal size and weight for making Lakerda.
Lakerda is generally known as a raki (traditional Turkish beverage) appetizer, but in the past, it was a common part of the regular dinners of Sephardic families and given to children between bread. This duo would stand in the middle of the table and be eaten as a sampler.
Factors such as overfishing, climate change, and marine pollution have a negative impact on fish populations. Ecological imbalances in marine ecosystems can affect the population of Toric fish in the Black Sea and Marmara River, which has a direct effect on Lakerda production. However, the technological development of cooking methods in kitchens reduces the preference for methods that require a long process, such as cooking in salt, and the time-consuming nature of this process may limit production. When production is limited and natural resources are at risk, it is important to take urgent measures to ensure sustainable fishing practices and the protection of marine ecosystems. Toric Lakerda production contributes to Toric awareness and, therefore, to sustainable fisheries. Lakerda should continue to adorn our tables as a common heritage of the cultures that have taken part in Istanbul’s history and are still alive.

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Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:M. Tümay İmamoğlu a nome di Slow Food Şile Palamut Conv