Today’s recipe is Syrian Fish with Sumac Tahini Sauce (Tajen samak), another delicious treat from Sumac by Anas Atassi. It’s the first time I’ve tasted tahini with white fish but now I’ve tried it, I love it. That sumac pairs so well is less of a surprise, its citrusy notes amplify the lemon used in the sauce. Alongside these are the welcoming flavours of soft, sweet onion, nutmeg, fresh parsley, and pinenuts.
Our sauce thickened much more during baking than the book photography indicates (it doesn’t seem to show the sauce at all), but the almost hummus-like texture ours baked into was a joy to eat, so I wouldn’t consider it a mistake!
Syrian Fish with Sumac Tahini Sauce (Tajen samak)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil,plus extra for drizzling
- 3 onions,
- 4 teaspoons of sumac
- Salt and pepper
- 700 g 1 lb 9 oz of white fish fillets
For the sauce
- 150 ml 5 fl oz of tahini
- Juice of 1–2 organic lemons, as desired
- 170 ml ⅔ cup of water
- 4-6 garlic cloves, as desired, pressed
- 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 handful of pine nuts, toasted
- Organic lemon, in slices
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Fry the onion rings for 3–5 minutes in the oil until they are soft. Season with 2 teaspoons of sumac, salt and pepper.
Spread the fried onion over the bottom of an ovenproof dish and set the fish on top of the bed of onions. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sumac, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven.
While the fish is baking, make the sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, adjusting the amount of lemon juice and garlic to your preference. Warm the sauce in a pan on medium heat, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.
Remove the fish from the oven, pour the sauce over the fish until completely covered, and then bake for another 10–15 minutes, until cooked thoroughly.
Serve with chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts, sumac and lemon slices.
Find out more about the book in our full review of Sumac: Recipes and stories from Syria.
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This recipe is extracted from Sumac by Anas Atassi and republished with permission from Murdoch Books. Food photography: Jeroen van der Spek. Home cooked recipe photography, Kavita Favelle.