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Samak Harrah
baked branzino with spicy taratour sauce

Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski

“Samak” meaning fish and “Harrah” meaning hot, together translates to spicy fish! It is also a famous dish in our family and my brother Eddie Jr.’s favorite fish dish of all time. I am a fan of the delicate and mild flavor of Branzino, a Mediterranean Sea Bass; here it is simply baked before it is finished off with my spicy tahini sauce, Taratour, then topped with toasted pine nuts and parsley.



1 recipe Taratour Sauce (spicy tahini sauce)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 medium to large branzino (Mediterranean sea bass, about 11⁄2 pounds each), cleaned

1 teaspoon plus 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

21⁄2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 lemons, sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1⁄3 cup pine nuts

3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch casserole.

Rinse the fish under cold running water, pat dry with clean paper towels and place on a board. Using a small, sharp knife, make three, evenly spaced shallow slits on an angle on the top side of each fish. Season both sides of each fish with salt and white pepper, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the lemon juice. Lay the fish on the casserole and surround with the lemon rounds.

Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the flesh of the fish is opaque and flaky with a crisp, caramelized outer skin. When there is 10 minutes of cooking time left, remove the fish from the oven and generously pour the taratour sauce on top until the fish is completely covered, reserving 1 cup of sauce for serving. Return the fish to the oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more, or until the sauce is hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and set aside briefly.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and season with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and toss to coat. Cook, stirring continuously, until light golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Debone and fillet the fish, transfer to a serving platter, and surround with the baked lemon slices. Spoon the reserved taratour sauce over the fish and finish with the pine nuts and minced parsley. Serve hot or warm with any remaining taratour sauce on the side.

NOTE: You can use already filleted branzino, whole or filleted cod, red snapper, or any flaky fish in this recipe.

Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.



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