Fried Fish


The Mediterranean waters bordering Lebanon yield many succulent fish. Of these, the Lebanese prefer one called the Sultan Ibrahim which they usually pan-fry and serve piping hot with a sauce. Fish sauces include mayonnaise, taratour bi taheeni (a sesame flavored sauce), or a mixture of pine nuts crushed well together with lemon juice, garlic and salt. Lemon wedges always accompany fish, no matter what other sauce is served.

Clean and scale the fish. Leave the head, but remove the eyes. Sprinkle inside and out with salt. Place the salted fish in the refrigerator for several hours. Let it return to room temperature before cooking. Dredge fish in flour. Fry in half inch olive oil until browned, shaking pan gently during cooking to prevent sticking. Turn fish once. Fry pieces of Arabic bread in the same oil and use them to garnish the fish, along with radishes and green onions.

Fish is often served with bits of fried vegetables such as squash, eggplant or cauliflower. It also combines well with hummus bi taheeni and baba ghannouj.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)