From the Lebanese Cookbook

by wjw on October 19, 2011

Tonight’s dinner was Samak al Kamoun, a whole fish grilled in a paste of garlic, paprika, olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin seeds lovingly toasted by yours truly and ground by hand with a mortar and pestle.

The grill scorched it a bit, so next time I’ll bake it.



Wm. Bainbridge October 19, 2011 at 4:37 am

I’ve had the best luck with poached–open large frying pan (metal handle), parchment paper on top, liquid half covering the fish, stick in the oven for 20 minutes, give or take. Pretty much the same, other than no cumin and olives & tomatoes. But cumin sounds very cool. Done toasted, but for Indian, not Middle Eastern.

Oz October 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

“The grill scorched it a bit” seems an understatement.

Sean Craven October 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

A while ago I spotted a Thai mortar and pestle at an estate sale. Karen noted my cupidity, and we wound up taking it home.

I am addicted. Spices, garlic, ginger, fresh herbs — even tough ones like citrus leaves and rosemary — it obliterates everything. The pestle must weigh a pound, pound and a half. And the mixtures take up oil like nobody’s business. Mix some olive oil in with the seasoning paste for chicken and it keeps things nice and moist. The only danger is that I might wind up grinding the house off its foundation.

I’ve got some chicken thighs in the fridge. You’re making me think I need to get some charcoal.

wjw October 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Oz— hey, crispy skin is no sin!

Sean— Thai food made with home-ground curries . . . mmmm.

Clyde Wisham October 25, 2011 at 5:20 am

Actually, that looks just about right for a grilled whole fish. If cooked all the way through, a grilled fish of that size will usually have sections of skin that are slightly charred. In Japan, where they eat lots of grilled fish, no one would blink an eye.
And, “paste of garlic, paprika, olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin seeds” … Yum. Looks delicious.

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