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Samkeh harra "huge spicy fish"

Samkeh harra or huge spicy fish:

This delicious Lebanese fish dish originated from a city called Tripoli the Northern big city in Lebanon. It is presented astonishingly on a large platter as part of a buffet. Imagine how splendid a whole fish looks when brought to the table covered with its lemony garlic tahini sauce decorated by the roasted pine nuts and almonds. Snapper or sea bass are the right fish or you can even use the fillets and you will get the same delicious flavor except for the table presentation won’t be the whole fish.

Prep. time: 40 mins

Cooking time: 35

Serves: 6


3 pounds whole white fish such as (snapper, sea bass or grouper) or filets

One lemon unpeeled and sliced

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/4 tsp white pepper

8 cloves garlic unpeeled


1 cup tahini

1 1/2 cup lemon juice

4 medium garlic cloves crushed

1 cup water

1 cup chopped parsley

1 1/2 cup chopped coriander

1 onion chopped

2 tomatoes chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp Olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup peeled almonds.

PREPARATION: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F or 180 C. Rub the fish inside out with the mixture of olive oil, salt, allspice, rosemary and white pepper. Put it on a greased aluminum foil on an oven tray. Cut slits in the fish and insert the lemon slices then put the rest inside the fish including part of the garlic cloves. Sprinkle the rest of the cloves around the fish and wrap it, put 1/4 cup of water in the tray to maintain the fish’s tenderness. Bake it for 25 to 30 mins or until the fish flakes easily.

Stir fry the pine nuts with a tbsp of oil until golden, set aside and repeat the same procedure with the almonds.

How to prepare the sauce: Crush the garlic add the tahini, water, salt and the lemon juice. Mix well using a whisk until it softened then add the parsley and stir it with the tahini sauce.

Put the oil in a medium pot, sautée the onion over medium heat, add the chopped tomatoes and stir for few mins then add the coriander and the cayenne pepper depends how spicy you prefer it and mix everything together. Pour now slowly the mixture of the tahini sauce stirring constantly over low heat until it boils for few mins. Serve the fish on a big platter as it is or remove the spines and keep the flesh. Pour the sauce on top of the fish keeping a small bowl on the side. Sprinkle the pine nuts and the almonds all over the sauce then decorate with lemon slices. The same procedure can be done with the fish filets.

Samkeh harra is the kind of a dish that’s saturated with an amazing spiced tahini sauce which is flavored by the coriander, garlic and lemony taste. This mouth watering delicious dish is eaten at room temperature. It is usually served on a family dinner or reserved for special occasions due to its big size.


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