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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Mullet Slit Up One Side and Stuffed
Photo by: Lord-Williams

largo, -a, largos, -as,  OCast luengo, -a, luengas, -os,Cat. lonc, llong, lonça, Eng. long, lavish, sharp, smart, lengthwise. Villena instructs that trout and many other foods should be carved lengthwise. [Anón/Grewe 1982:CXXV:148; Berceo. Libro. 1983:272:2565; Diccionari Catalá. 1980:7:LLI:48; Nola. 1989:xxv-2; Nola/Iranzo. 1982:170; and Villena/Calero. 2002:38a-38b:41a


This recipe is adapted from the thirteenth-century Baghdadi cookbook. Originally fish is to be backed in a tannour, but the regular oven will do the job just fine. Although the recipe calls for a whole fish, which would be a nice thing to have, I sometimes use a whole tail part of a medium to big salmon, slash the skin and fill it and tie in the way I normally do with a whole fish.


Brad Pitt Crying for Stuffed Fish!
Photo by: Lord-Williams
2 ½-3 lbs whole fish such as a small salmon or 2 big trouts[2], butterflied. Keep skin and make 2-3 diagonal slashed on the outer skin on both sides
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp turmeric

For the stuffing:

½ c sumac[3]
¼ c za’tar or thyme[4]
½ tsp coriander, cumin, cinnamon, each, optional
4 cloves garlic, grated
½ c toasted walnut, chopped
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp salt
About 3 tbsp water


1.     Rub fish with oil and turmeric inside and out.
2.     Mix stuffing ingredients, it should have a paste-like consistency. Add a little water if needed. Fill the inside of the fish with it. Secure the fish closed with kitchen thread or wooden picks.
Sumac, an Interesting Ingredient for Filling
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3.     Put in a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 450º F for about 20 minutes or until flesh is flaky when poked with a fork, and skin is nicely browned. (Cooking time depends on how thick and big the fish is.)  

[1] From Nawal Nasrallah’s Delights from the Garden of Eden, p. 388.
[2] Mullet was used.
[3] Sumac is a red, tart Berry of a bush that has been growing wild, and has been used in the middle East ever since ancient times. It should not be confused with the poisonous sumac trees of North America. The berries are dried and used whole or ground as a seasoning or a souring agent. Only the husk is used, though, for the seed are too hard toe at. Sumac is not prized for its aroma as much as for the fruity and pleasantly sour taste, believed to have the power to enhance and excite the appetites. It is not well known in the West, and is only available in Middle Eastern shops. Ground sumac husk is tossed with raw sliced onions, and is especially good in meat dishes like Kebab and Kufta. When sumac is used as a souring agent instead of lemon juice, while who berries are used. They are cracked and soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then strained very well. The resulting reddish juice will be added to the dish, and strained berries are discarded. Sumac is also an important ingredient in Za’tar.
[4] Za’tar is an ancient herb. it was known in the ancient Akkadian language as “zateru” from which the Arabic word was derived. za’tar os thyme, but it is also a blend the components of which are dried thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt. This blend is often sprinkled on drained yogurt, meat dishes, vegetables, or used as a dip. It is sometimes mixed with olive oil and spread on bread before baking. I especially like to sprinkle it on my tossed salad. The proportions for making it vary from place to place or even from family to family. The following is an acceptable standard:
            Two parts sesame seeds
            One part ground dried thyme
            One part ground sumac
            A sash of salt
Dry toast sesame seeds in a skillet or in the oven. Stir frequently since sesame tends to burn quickly. Allow it to cool completely, then mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Keep mixture in an airtight container. It stays fresh longer if kept in the freezer.

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