Siyyadiyyeh – Lebanese Fish with Onion Sauce and Rice

We received a Striper as a gift last week and to me that was a great opportunity to make Siyyadiyyeh.

Siyyadiyyeh is a Lebanese dish that the onion caramelization can make or break. Having fresh fish on hand is a great help, because you don’t want the “fishy” taste that some frozen fish can have.

The best results can also depend on having a whole fish, so the bones, head, and tail can be used to make stock.

This dish takes relatively a long time to make, even if you don’t make the stock from scratch, since caramelizing the onions is the longest process in the preparation. You can go around that by caramelizing the onions in the oven, but I never tried that myself and I don’t know how things would turn out, but it might be worth a shot.

The onion caramelization can be done ahead and then you can go from there, when trying to prepare the rest of the dish.

Be careful not to overcook the onions otherwise the sweetness will turn into a pungent and bitter taste. The onions should be watched closely while caramelizing, because they can burn in a second.

In the end though, this dish is worth it, the way the sauce marries with the fish and infiltrates the rice, is a delicate and balanced set of flavors that will leave your palate in a happy state.

Siyyadiyyeh

Ingredients:

  • 1 white fish (filleted and bones, head, and tail reserved)
  • 3 medium onion julienned
  • 2 cups rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 – 2 stalks celery
  • ½ tsp caraway
  • ½ tsp all spice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/8 cup slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to season the fish fillets

Preparation:

  1.  Caramelize the onions with the olive oil, on medium heat. Reduce the heat when the onions start to turn golden, and cook till dark brown. Set a small amount aside for the garnish.
  2. Add water, spices, bay leaves, potato, carrot, celery, the small onion, the fish head, the fish bones, and the fish tail to the remaining onions and boil till flavors meld together.
  3. In the meantime toast the nuts.
  4. Strain the stock and use half of it to cook the rice.
  5. Return the potato and the small onion to the rest of the stock and blend to make the sauce. Bring to a boil.
  6. Season the fish and bake it for about 20 min at 325° or pan fry it with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
  7. Serve the fish and the rice sprinkled with toasted nuts and some caramelized onions. Drizzle with sauce.

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