Whenever I think of this dish my mouth waters! It sure teases the tongue with a barrage of complex flavors from earthy spices like Oregano/Thyme, Sumac and garlic along with green and red peppers.
Mom has been baking this fish for a long time yet she doesn’t have a consistent official name for it. For convenience, she calls it baked fish with sumac at times, or baked fish in zaatar (thyme) at other times. It is however one of the tastiest seafood dishes I’ve ever had.
The Oregano baked fish is fairly simple to make: pick a fresh fish along the lines of Red Snapper, rub it with ground thyme or oregano, stuff it with garlic and lemons and bake it gently. Once cooked, let cool a bit then pull fish meat, cover with a chunky paste of sumac, thyme, garlic, lemon juice and peppers, bake again then indulge.
For best results, use a fresh fish and high quality Sumac spice (should be bright in color, dark means old) and serve immediately after baking. This dish can also be consumed cold. My mouth is watering again!
- 3 lbs of fresh fish, preferably Red Snapper
- 1 green pepper (bell pepper), finely chopped
- 1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 garlic head, crushed
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 7 teaspoons ground thyme or oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cilantro (or dried cilantro flakes)
- 7 teaspoons of quality sumac
- 5 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Rinse the fish with water then place in a baking tray and rub with a bit of salt and with about 2 teaspoons of ground thyme or oregano, place some cut lemons inside and bake for 20 minutes at 350F.
- Meanwhile, chop green and red peppers into small cubes, then mix crushed garlic with lemon juice, 5 teaspoons of ground thyme or oregano, the ground cilantro, the sumac, olive oil and salt to taste. This should yield a red paste that you would then mix with the chopped peppers.
- Once the fish is baked, and while still warm (watch out so you don’t burn yourself) remove its bones and scales, pull its meat then place it in a baking tray and scoop the paste on top of it until it’s all covered. You don’t have to mix it, the paste will seep through naturally.
- Bake again for about 10 minutes at 350F so the paste infuses well into the meat then serve hot or cold along with a side of Fattoush or your preferred salad.