Samak al-Sikbaj Fish made like Sikbaj

So we start with a very tasty dish in fish.  Most people go ewww…ick!  Don’t let that stop you.  Pick a GOOD piece of fish.  Talipia is sort of the last resort if you must.  Not a lot of flavor.  I went with a good piece of fresh wild salmon.  And it was amazing!  The dish almost didn’t make it out of the kitchen.

Samak al-Sikbaj

Fish made like Sikbaj




You will need a fresh fish, vinegar, honey, atraf tib, black pepper, onion, saffron, sesame oil, and flour.  Wash the fish.  Cut up and fry in the sesame oil after having dredged in flour.  When it has cooked, removed it.  Mince the onions and fry in the sesame oil until they brown.  Pound the black pepper and add the atraf tib.  Dissolve the saffron in the vinegar and honey and add (to the onions).  When they are cooked put the fish into it.  (Kanz al-Fawa’id fi Tanwi al-Mawa’id/Salloum, pp. 123)


1/2 lb deboned fish

1/3 C vinegar

1/4 C honey

Pinch saffron

1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 chopped onion

Enough oil to fry

Enough flour to dredge the fish


I gathered everything up


and started the oil in the pan prior to anything else.  The oil needs to be sizzling before putting the dredged fish in it, otherwise the fish will stick to the pan.



Next I dredged the fish on both sides then waited till the oil was sizzling.


Once the oil started to sizzle I placed the fish into the pan, covering it, and fried for 5 minutes on both sides.  If you have a slightly smaller fish or less thick, use your best judgement on fry time.  Thinner pieces of fish probably shouldn’t fry more then 2-3 minutes on each side.

Once cooked I pulled the fish from the pan and put aside.


Looks gorgeous, doesn’t it.  But wait!  We aren’t done yet.  It gets even better.

The chopped onions and a little more sesame oil went back into the pan.


These browned up very quickly so don’t walk away at this stage.  I did have enough time to combine the vinegar honey and saffron into a small bowl.


I stirred everything together and added to the onion and pepper once the onions were nicely browned.



A slight sizzle got going and on top of that went the fish.  Just enough to coat on each side.

The fish was plated once more.  I poured the remaining onion/honey-vinegar sauce on top.

068This is amazingly good!  Quick, elegant and daaamn tasty!




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