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Sitto’s Samak Mishwee
grilled red snapper


Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski

Growing up, my mother vividly remembers local fish merchants coming from Tripoli to her family’s small village, offering the fresh catch of the day. My Sitto (grandmother) was a great lover of seafood, and would enthusiastically snap up these glorious, still-wet-from-the-sea fish. She would prepare the fish simply, with olive oil, lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs—all grilled over smoky charcoal. I, too, love fish, and I love preparing it as simply as my grandmother, and I’m sure you will, too.



3 whole red snapper (about 2 pounds each), cleaned

1⁄3 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1⁄2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, stemmed, leaves left whole, plus 1 tablespoon minced leaves for garnish

3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves picked and left whole, plus 1 tablespoon minced leaves for garnish

3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tablespoon leaves picked and left whole for garnish

12 garlic cloves, 6 left whole and 6 smashed into a smooth paste

2 lemons, sliced into rounds

1⁄3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 lemon, sliced, for serving

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat, about 400°F.

Rinse the fish under cold running water and pat dry. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lay the fish vertically on the oiled foil, and make three even slits on one side of each fish, using a small, sharp knife to score all the way to the bone. Lightly season the inside and outside of the fish with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and white pepper, then stuff each fish with a sprig of parsley, mint, and thyme, 2 garlic cloves, and 2 lemon rounds. Combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a small bowl, then drizzle over the fish.


In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Whisk in the 1/3 cup of olive oil and the remaining lemon juice to form a creamy basting sauce.


Brush the grill or grill pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, then place each fish onto the preheated grill on an angle. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, basting the fish frequently with oil, lemon, and garlic sauce. Once the skin is crisp and the inside is flaky and white, remove from the grill and transfer to a clean baking sheet.


Debone the fish, sprinkle with herbs and grated lemon peel, surround with lemon slices, and serve.

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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