The Classic Sayadieh: Lebanese Fish with Rice
2 kg sea bass, or any other large white fish such as red snapper or cod
3 cups long grain rice, rinsed and drained
3 large onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1/2 cups almonds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon caraway
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
In a pan, fry the almonds and pine nuts in 3 tablespoons vegetable oil until they turn light brown. Remove from pan and set aside on a kitchen absorbent paper. Reserve the pan for frying the fish.
Rub the inside and outside of the fish with some salt and olive oil.
Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan and fry the fish until tender. Turn off the heat.
Remove the fish from the pan and keep the oil in the pan.
Peel the skin off, and remove the bones and head. Discard the bones and keep the head. Cut the fish flesh into big serving pieces and set aside.
Fry the onions, in the reserved oil in the pan, until crispy and brown in color. Remove 3 tablespoons of the fried onions and keep aside for the garnish.
Add the fish head, the spices, and 4 cups of hot water to the fried onions in the pan. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 30 min on medium heat or until the onions become very soft.
Remove the fish head. Bring the sauce to a boil then add the rice. Cover the pan and cook the rice over low heat for 25 min. Add more hot water if needed and taste to see if more salt and seasoning is needed. The rice is cooked when all water has evaporated.
Put the rice in a serving plate. Place the fried fish pieces on top and sprinkle with the fried onions, pine nuts and almonds. Serve immediately.
Ingredients: Makes 4 servings
1 Kilor (or about 2 lbs) of Fresh Red Snapper (or Rock Cod, King Cod, or even Alaskan Cod)
1.5 cups Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
17 cloves of garlic
1.5 cups of Tahini sauce
4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of salt
5-6 tablespoons of coriander or to taste
1 tablespoon of hot chili powder or to taste
1 cup of Pine nuts
Green Parsley (chopped)
Rub fish with white vinegar and salt then rinse with cold water in order to tame down any smell. Grease the cooking tray with a tiny sprinkle of olive oil so it doesn’t stick, cut slits in fish (or just lay the filets on the tray if you bought filets), rub a tablespoon amount of olive oil and sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice on the fish filets. And if you’re cooking a whole scaled fish, then insert lemon slices inside the fish for flavoring. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. If it looks like it’s getting dry, squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top of the fish.
In a small pan, mix 1 cup of pine nuts with 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Take half of the pine nuts and grind them with a mortar and pestle, you will need to add them to the sauce. Keep the remaining pine nuts for garnishing at the end.
Mince about 17 cloves of garlic, add them with 1.5 cups of lemon juice in a pot, add 1.5 cups of tahini, 4 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of salt, 5-6 tablespoons of coriander or to taste, 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper or to taste (if you like spicy food, spike it up with 2 table spoons or to taste). Heat on stove to medium/high, stirring constantly (very important so they don’t stick or burn). If the sauce looks too thick, add a cup or 2 of water. It should have a liquid consistency at the end. Bring the sauce to a boil while keeping on stirring non-stop and then lower heat, add the smashed pine nuts then keep on cooking on low heat and stirring until you reach about 20 minutes cooking time for the sauce.
Once the fish is done, lay it out on a serving platter that is at least 1 inch deep, pour the cooked tahini sauce on top of the fish, garnish with parsley and browned pine nuts, serve hot with pita bread and enjoy
Sandwich: If you’d like to make it into a sandwich, pour the fish + sauce along the diameter of a pita bread, add lettuce and tomatoes, roll and enjoy.