Legendary Dishes | Al Sayadiyah صيادية (fish with rice, onions, almonds, pine nuts and saffron)

ARABIA EGYPT LEVANT SYRIA

This simple spiced fish and rice dish has no single method. From Lebanon to Yemen the story is different. Only the fish and rice are constant, all the supplementary ingredients including the spices are subject to regional and personal choices and changes. Almonds and pine nuts are optional and turmeric can replace saffron. Generally the rice should be coloured with carmelised onions. The fish can be baked, fried or grilled.

Typical sayadiyeh seasonings and spices include a combination from allspice, black pepper, chilli, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, onion, turmeric, saffron and salt.

The commercial packet spice mixture includes cornstarch and sugar.

Our sources are old cookbooks and here and here.

  • 1 fish head + 1.5 litres water for 800 ml fish stock
  • 1.2 kg onions, sliced thick and thin
  • 800 g fish fillets
  • 300 g basmati / long grain rice, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes before cooking, drained
  • 90 ml olive oil
  • 30 g almonds, dry roasted
  • 30 g pine nuts, dry roasted
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sayadiyeh ground spices
  • 1 tbsp saffron / turmeric, tip of knife
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger

Pour 5 tablespoons of oil into a large deep frying pan over a high heat. Before the oil begins to smoke add half of the onions. Fry and stir for a couple of minutes. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining onions, increase heat to high, fry and stir. Cover, turn heat to a medium-low setting and cook for 15 minutes. Remove and lid and allow the moisture in the lid to drizzle back into the pan. Increase heat to high, fry and stir for 5 minutes. Turn heat down, cover the pan and allow to cook in the residual heat for 10 minutes until the onions begin to take on a golden-red colour. Remove lid, fry and stir over a medium-low heat until the onions carmelise, about 30 minutes.

During this final phase with the onions, place the fish head in a pot with about one and a half litres of water, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Stir the garlic (if using), ginger, saffron or turmeric and spices into the onions, fry gently for a few minutes. Add the rice, coat thoroughly in the mixture. Add the fish stock. Using a wooden spoon combine the rice and liquid. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and leave to cook for 30 minutes.

Grill the fish fillets, flake.

When the rice is cooked, place the flaked fish on top, cover and leave to allow the flavours to mingle for 5 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with pine nuts and almonds.


Al Sayadiyah is among the recipes in the first volume of Around the World in 80 Legendary Dishes.