Sayadieh Bi Samak (Baked Fish With Rice)

READY IN: 1hr 45mins




  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/325F/170°C.
  • Gut, scale and cut off the fish head (but keep it aside) then wash, clean and dry the fish.
  • To caramelise the onions, heat half the oil in a pot and add the sliced onions.
  • Let them cook on a gentle heat until darkish-brown in colour but not burned.
  • Remove the onions from heat and place on kitchen paper.
  • Reserve the oil in the pan for frying the fish head.
  • To make the fish stock, add the fish head to the oil in the pan in which the onoins were cooked.
  • Add 1 tsp baharat spice, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, salt and pepper and fry till browned (but careful not to burn the spices).
  • When brown, add 8 cups water and let it boil for 45 minutes.
  • Strain and use the stock to cook the rice.
  • To prepare the rice, wash the rice 3 times and soak it for half an hour.
  • Add half of the remaining oil to a large pot and when hot, add the rice, 1 tsp baharat spice mix and 1/2 tsp ground cumin.
  • Stir-fry to seal the rice for 2-3 minutes but careful not to break the rice in the process.
  • Keeping 1 cup of stock reserved aside, pour in the rest of the stock (should be 6 cups) over the rice.
  • Bring the stock to boil, and once boiled reduce the heat and let it cook gently for about 20 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
  • Meanwhile, to bake the fish, using the remaining oil, grease a roasting tin and fish and about a tablespoon reserved for the spice mixture for the fish.
  • Season the fish inside and outside with salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl add the remaining barahat spice mix and ground cumin and add in the reserved tablespoon of oil to blend it into a paste.
  • Rub this spice mixture all over and inside the fish.
  • Place the lemon slices inside the fish and put the fish in the roasting tin, pouring in half cup of water.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
  • To make the sauce, heat the reserved cup of fish stock and add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, the let it boil to reduce and thicken.
  • Remove from heat and strain.
  • To serve, pile the cooked rice on a platter and top it with the whole fish (or you may cut the fish in pieces).
  • Garnish with crispy caramelised fried onions and pine nuts and serve with the sauce on the side.