Samak mashwi

Samak mashwi

Barbecued fish with dates

By
From
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Serves
6
Photographer
Alan Benson

The traditional Gulf way to grill fish is in a special cut-away dome-shaped clay barbecue with glowing coals in the base. The fish is impaled on a firm stick, with the stick passing through the mouth and into the body.

The end of the stick protruding from the mouth is stuck into the earth under the bed of coals, at a 45 degree angle. Perhaps you could try a similar method, using a fire beneath a low grill, with galvanised iron set around three sides to deflect the heat.

The dates give the fish a very pleasant flavour.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
180g dried pitted dates
6 whole firm-fleshed fish, gutted, each about 375 g
salt, for sprinkling
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed, (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons Baharat
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Method

  1. Cover the dates with cold water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, or until soft. At the same time, soak six wooden skewers or about 18 cocktail sticks in cold water for 30 minutes to stop them scorching.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse the fish cavities and dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, inside and out, and leave for 15 minutes or longer.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the onion, garlic, if using, and the spices. Add a little water and mix together well.
  4. Fill the fish cavities with the onion mixture and close the cavities with the soaked wooden skewers or cocktail sticks.
  5. Rub the dates through a sieve to purée them, adding some of the soaking water, or purée in a blender or food processor, adding enough soaking liquid to make a soft paste.
  6. Spread the date purée on each side of each fish and leave on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  7. Cook the fish over glowing charcoal for 4–5 minutes each side, depending on the thickness of the body.
  8. Serve hot. The skin, with the scales attached, is removed before eating.

Note

  • Choose a fish suitable for barbecuing, preferably a round-bodied variety such as red mullet. Do not have them scaled — the scales keep the flesh intact during grilling.
Tags:
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Tess
Mallos
Middle Eastern
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