Samak Maqlu bil-Khall wal-Tahina (Fried Fish with Vinegar and Tahini)

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This is a really good fish dish, that doesn’t have a strong fish taste (for those who really can’t stand the strong fishy taste of…fish).  I also used tilapia, a rather mild flavored fish.   The bite of the vinegar melds well with the tahini and both combine very nicely with the fish and spices.   A warming bit of fishy goodness!

Samak Maqlu bil-Khal wal-Tahina

(Fried Fish with Vinegar and Tahini)


Take salted or fresh fish, wash it well and dry it, then cut it up medium and fry in sesame oil  Throw a little dry coriander on it.  Then take as much vinegar and tahineh as needed and dissolve it until mixed; you moisten it with vinegar little by little until it has the desired consistency.  Season it, and if you wish, put in a little ground mustard and nuts or nuts with out mustard.  Then take it from the pan hot, and first put sesame oil in the pan, and coriander and milled Chinese cinnamon, and it is eaten.


5 Tilapia fillets              3 Tbs sesame oil           1 ½ tsp coriander

½ cup tahini                  ¼ cup vinegar               3 Tbs pine nuts and pistachios

Salt to taste

My Redaction:

I laid out all the ingredients needed (except the coriander).  This is for 5 fillets though the recipe can be expanded or cut as needed depending on the size of fillets being cooked.

Fish with spices

In the far right corner are the nuts, roughly 3 Tbs each un-chopped and unsalted.  Any type of nut can be used from walnuts to hazelnuts, in multiple combination or singular i.e. just pine nuts.  I just happened to like the idea of pistachio and the rich nuttiness of pine nuts.

Before adding the oil to the pan I combined the tahini and vinegar together.

tahini and vinegar

The vinegar curdles the tahini a little bit, though the sesame seed paste absorbs the vinegar very quickly and makes a thick paste after the original curdling.  You can add more vinegar . if you prefer a sharp bite however do not add so much that the flavor of the tahini or fish is over powered.  Do not worry if the mixture still looks like peanut butter in thickness after combining.

Next, I heated up a pan with 1 ½ tsp sesame oil.  I used lightly toasted sesame oil instead of dark though either could be used.  Once the sesame oil was heated up I placed the tilapia into the oil then sprinkled coriander on top and allowed to brown on one side.

fish with corriander

You may be asking why this is bubbling instead of frying and I can answer that question.  The fillets were still a little frozen and the water is now frying out of the fish.  This sort of worked out very well.  With the water and the oil cooking very hot, I placed a lid over the fish to hep with the cooking time, which actually cooked the fish a little faster.

Once the bottom was browned I flipped the fillets over to brown on the other side, sprinkling with coriander.  With the top now on the bottom browning I dotted the browned side of the fillets with the tahini and vinegar mixture, covering the side as thoroughly as possible with the generous dolloped teaspoon.  By this time the other side should be browned and I flipped the fillets over again to warm up the tahini.  This was a quick 1-2 minute browning before I removed the fish from the pan.  Sorry no pictures of the tahini dotting as I was moving very fast to make sure nothing burnt.

Finally I added the last of the sesame oil to the frying pan and mixed the nuts with the oil till the nuts were sizzling.  Roughly 2-3 minutes.  I sprinkled the tilapia with salt then removed the nuts from the oil sprinkling those on top of the fillets.

cooked fish with nuts

Now the fillets do crumble on removing from the pan (or at least mine do).  So don’t worry about the non symmetrical fillets.  The fish will still taste excellent.  Sprinkle with just a touch of coarsely ground salt or regular salt and enjoy this with sesame roasted carrots or garlic fried spinach!