Last Updated on June 13, 2022
Lebanese Samkeh Harra Recipe
Folks in the city of Tripoli/Mina in Lebanon are well known for their seafood . And on top of the pyramid lays “Samke Harra.” Translated from Arabic, it simply means spicy fish. This is a specialty Lebanese Samkeh Harra Recipe where a baked fish is baked, then covered with a mouth-watering tangy, garlicky, spicy and hearty Tahini sauce . For those who are not familiar with Tahini, it’s a paste made from crushing/blending roasted sesame seeds and can be easily purchased online these days.
Tahini Fish Recipe
The fish can be filets or whole (scaled). In the US, we found that the best fish for this recipe is the real Red Snapper, followed by Ling Cod or any pacific cod type of fish. I’ve had it made with Salmon before and it wasn’t as good, the strong Salmon flavor just didn’t go well with the Tahini.
Tahini Paste Brand for Lebanese Samkeh Harra Recipe
We’ve tried several Tahini/sesame paste brands, and the old school Lebanese Alkanater brand stands out to us above the rest.
I’ve also personally tried Samke Harra in many restaurants in Lebanon and outside made in different styles, and the best method that I liked is the one by the folks from El-Mina, featured here. Sorry my Beirutis. And if you visit Tipoli, El-Mina in Lebanon, make sure to pass by Abou Fadi’s restaurant. It carries the name of it’s late owner who himself was a fisherman. Abou Fadi made the best Samke Harra sandwiches hands down at least back in the day, because he always used fresh fish and had a special touch in making his Tahini sauce. Fortunately we found this youtube video about the Abu Fadi restaurant in Tripoli El-Mina, recorded by Dirty Kitchen Secrets for the curious.
Lebanese Samkeh Harra Spicy Tahini Fish Recipe
- 4 Lbs Red Snapper or pacific cod
- 20 cloves garlic
- 1 cup Tahini Paste
- 1 cup pine nuts raw
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley finely chopped
- 1.5 cups Lemon Juice
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 6 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Baking the Fish
- If necessary, rub the fish with white vinegar and salt then rinse with cold water in order to tame down any smell.
- If using whole scaled fish, cut slits in it prior to baking. Alternatively you can also use fish filets.
- Rub fish with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle some lemon juice on it. If you’re cooking a whole scaled fish, insert lemon slices inside the fish for flavoring.
- Place fish on olive oil-greased cooking tray and bake at 300F for 20-25 minutes.
Making the Garnish
- In a small frying pan, mix 1 cup of pine nuts with 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil and fry on medium heat for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Be careful as they can burn very fast.
- Set aside half of the fried pine nuts for garnish. And the other half crush them into a mortal and pestle and use them in making the sauce.
Making the Sauce
- In a deep sauce pan, ad the crushed garlic, lemon juice, the Tahini paste, water, salt, coriander and chili powder. Mix well and cook on medium heat while stirring constantly (very important so they don’t stick or burn) until it boils then lower the heat.
- Crush half of the pine nuts in a mortar and pestle then add them to the sauce pan mixing well then put on simmer.