Sayadiah is a traditional rice and fish dish that is beautifully aromatic and quite common in all Lebanese households. Over the years I have tried making it a few different ways, sometimes using saffron and other times using baharat (Lebanese 7 spice). Most recently I asked the advice of my older sister Fadia and found the trick to getting that robust flavour was firstly the way you cook your onions (soft, golden and not browned) and the other being the homemade fish stock! So here is my version of her recipe. I added the use of the prawns which I think undeniably intensifies the flavours.
1 – 1.5kg whole white fish (such as barramundi, filleted & bones reserved)
500g green prawns
2 cups long grain rice
4 tbsp cup olive oil
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 brown onions, diced finely
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
2 bay leaves
1 garlic clove
2 pieces lemon peel
1 coriander root
2 tsp salt
5 whole cloves
5 cups water
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
- Fillet the fish, leaving bones (or most fish mongers will do this for you). Cut the bones to fit into your stock pot. Discard gills. Cut fish fillets into large chunks and refrigerate until needed.
- Remove heads and shells off prawns. Add shells and heads to stock pot and refrigerate prawn meat until needed.
- To the stock pot add one onion (roughly chopped), stock powder, bay leaves, garlic, lemon peel, whole cloves, coriander root and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Add 5 cups of water to the pot & bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low & leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Strain.
- Heat 2 tbsps oil in a frying pan, add the 2 finely diced onions & fry until golden (do not brown). Remove 1/3 of onions & set aside.
- Back in the large saucepan, add the fried onions, rice, cumin, cinnamon, salt & pepper. Add the strained stock. Mix together, bring to the boil then reduce heat & leave to simmer for 10 minutes with lid on. After 10 minutes, turn off heat and leave lid on for a further 10 minutes so steam can continue cooking the rice.
- In the frying pan, heat the last 2 tbsps of oil & fry the chunks of fish and, prawns in batches, until cooked on both sides. Set aside & keep warm.
- Return reserved 1/3 of onions you set aside to frying pan and continue to fry until browned & crispy. Add nuts and fry for a further 5 minutes until toasted. Drain on a paper towel.
- Serve the rice in a large serving dish topped with the fish & nuts. This dish is perfect with a side of salad & dollop of yoghurt.