Samki Harra is Lebanese Fish in a Cilantro-Chili Sauce that is made with a firm white fish -- I chose cod. I was in Asheville for Easter weekend visiting with my dad and sister, so this was my first recipe made away from my own kitchen which was definitely a challenge in of itself.
The fish is dusted with flour and lightly sautéed in olive oil for a few minutes on each side. My dad only owns small frying pans, and at first I tried to do this in a pasta pan but the fish immediately stuck to the bottom of the pan and the first fillet had to be scrapped entirely. After that, I moved on to using the tiny pan and only sautéing a piece or so at a time.
Once the fish was golden on each side but not cooked all the way through, I set the fillets aside and began working on a sauce for them to be cooked in later. Onions and garlic are cooked down until they begin to brown and then cilantro is added. The cilantro in my herb garden has been taking over lately, so this was a nice opportunity to use it up -- I cut it a couple of days ago and then transported it to Asheville in tupperware.
The sauce calls for fish stock to be made from scratch, but I wasn't ready to get so inventive in someone else's kitchen, so I purchased stock at the store and added this to the onion mix, along with walnuts ground down to almost a paste, hot pepper, and cumin. The sauce sits over medium heat for about 20 minutes while the flavors develop, and then the fish is added to finish cooking. After 8 minutes or so the fish flakes easily and is ready to come out of the liquid. Once the fish was removed and set on a platterI added fresh lemon juice to the sauce and then spooned the mixture over the fish.
Here's the platter with all the fish:
And an individual piece:
With the Samki Harra I served a green bean dish, which was a pretty quick fix although I was again without the proper type of pan. As in the recipe for the fish sauce, onions and garlic are sautéed in olive oil, and then freshly drained green beans (with their ends cut off) are removed and cooked for about five minutes. To these ingredients, I added tomatoes -- in my case whole canned tomatoes that were cut up, but fresh could also be used if they were in season -- and covered the dish to simmer for about 20 minutes with a little salt and sugar. Just before they were ready (when the beans are soft) I added some lemon juice, and then served.
I cut down on the ingredients in both recipes since there were only three of us eating and I figured that any leftovers would go to waste. It looked like a lot of food and my dad was sure that there would be tons leftover, but we ate all but a pretty tiny piece of the cod.
The sauce on the fish was very flavorful and had a little bit of heat. I really enjoyed both the texture and the flavor of the walnuts. The green beans were also delicious, and the tomatoes really stood out.
As you can see, I also made Stecca, which was yummy. And since they haven't completely bought in to the Mediterranean diet yet, both my sister and dad said "hello, butter."