In Tartous and in all coastal cities around the world no doubt, fish is an important part of our diet. There are so many ways to prepare various types of seafood that nobody can truly claim any one particular recipe. In my opinion, when it comes to cooking fish, the simpler the better. The sea provides us with the most delicious source of animal protein. Little manipulation is needed to enhance or to bring out the taste of the already scrumptious white meat. Besides, the purpose of this post is to get anyone to be able to go out to the local supermarket or better yet a nearby fish market, grab some fish, rice and a few ingredients and get down to eat a most delicious plate in a little over an hour.
We all know that fresh fish is best. If you can get it don’t even think twice. Buy the finest fish you care to pay for. The universal truth about fish is that the higher the price the better the quality. Fish with a relatively full girth roast better than their thinner counterparts, which in turn are more suited to frying. Look for specimen weighing between ½ to 1 kg (1 to 2 lbs).
The following quantities are enough to feed 6 hungry souls.
3 kg of fish (3 to 6 pieces)
3 cups of long grain rice
10 medium-sized dry onions
1 clove of garlic
1 green pepper, 1 red pepper
¾ cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup of vegetable oil
Salt & spices (cinnamon, dry coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, …etc.)
What you see in the photos are 3 Sfirni and 1 Haramyeh (as they are known locally in Tartous). Let’s start with the rice.
Preparing Sayadieh (Rice):
-Peel the onions and slice them thinly.
-Fry them in vegetable oil until they turn dark brown, turning and stirring them with a wooden spatula. (you need some good ventilation in the kitchen)
-Completely drain and throw the oil away.
-Add 4 cups of water to the fried onions and dash them with some salt, cinnamon, dry coriander, cumin and cardamom (spices to your liking if these are unavailable).
-Boil for 30 minutes until the onions are very tender.
-Drain the brown sauce in another pot while squeezing the mushy onions.
-Heat the butter or shortening, add the rice and turn it for a few minutes before adding the onion sauce. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover until the rice is cooked (don’t tell me you don’t know how to cook rice).
Preparing the Olive Oil Sauce:
-Mix the olive oil with the juice of 2 lemons. Smash ½ garlic clove completely until it turns into a mush (use anything for hammering the garlic after adding a teaspoon of salt). Add the garlic to the olive and lemon sauce and divide it in 2 parts. 1 part is to be added on top of the fish before placing it in the oven while the 2nd part is used as a dip while eating.
Preparing the Fish:
-Preheat the oven to 225˚C = 437˚F.
-Cut the fish on the outside in diagonal parallel lines and insert the remaining garlic (sliced).
-Place some lemon and green and red pepper slices in the belly of the fish, add salt and spice it up using your imagination.
-Pour ½ of the olive oil sauce, lemon juice and smashed garlic over the fish and place inside the oven for 1 hour.