Signature dish: Sea bass with Syrian style warm lentil salad

I can't believe a whole month has passed without me writing a word on my blog. To my defence (I keep telling myself) I moved house, I moved job, I moved city (Syrian Foodie in Essex nowadays), I have a three months old baby, I am organising an international medical conference and I have a couple of research projects that I am so far behind on. I think I have a very valid excuse!

To start me writing again I decided to write about my "signature dish" but which one? I thought long and hard about that one. I wanted my signature dish to be something I created. I wanted something modern and elegant. And finally a dish with a true Syrian flavour to it. (speaking of elegant, I am not happy with the pictures I have. when I cook this dish again I will take new photos and re-post).

Us Damascene are not big fish eaters. Many house holds in Damascus would eat fish less than once in a year. And when we decide to eat it we use the most an imaginative way of cooking fish, deep fried. Don't get me wrong, I love deep fried fish with Arabic bread and nice taratour sauce on the side but I love fish cooked with a bit more imagination. I love combining fish with interesting salads, I love fish curries and I love fish with vegetables or beans on the side. So when I wanted to create an interesting fish dish and give it a Syrian flavour was particularly challenging.

Lentil and fish is a classic combination. From experience I believe the less you do to a nice piece of fish the better so I decided to leave the fish as simple as I can and turn my attention to the lentils to Syrianise it. What I did in essence was to take a simple classic Ful bi Ziet (broad beans in olive oil) and replace the broad beans with lentils. Add a piece of nice fish and the result works a treat and unmistakably Syrian.

Here is my Sea bass with warm lentil salad:

Sea bass fillet skins on 1-2 per person
Dry green lentils 100g
One large tomato
One onion
Chopped parsley 30g
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Garlic two cloves
Black pepper

Wash the lentil and cook in plenty of salted water until nice and tender. This might take 20 - 30 minutes depending on the lentil. Drain and keep warm.

Chop the tomato and onion as fine as you can. Crush the two cloves of garlic and add with the lemon juice and parsley to the tomato and onion.

Heat a heavy-bottom large pan. Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a little oil to the pan and cook the fish fillets skin side first. You need to press the fish fillet down with your hand to prevent the skin curling. Once started cooking you can add the next fillet and repeat the same process. Once the skin is gold and crispy turn the fillet to cook the other side. The whole cooking process should not take more than few minutes.

Add the warm lentils to the salad. Season with salt and a generous amount of olive oil. Spoon some of the lentil salad and arrange the fish on top. Drizzle with olive oil.


Amanda said...

Very glad to see you back on deck - and with such a lovely,fresh, simple recipe, too!

Unknown said...

Congratulations on the birth of your child! How wonderful! Best wishes for your new home and job!
Nice dish too!

Lisa Cookwitch said...

What a lovely recipe. The first photo of the fillets is very good indeed, don't remove that one!

Good luck with all that you are doing - and welcome to Essex. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds excellent! I am a big fan of both lentils and fish, but never thought of combining the two until now. I will definitely try this.
My "Syrian" version of fish was always frying it in olive oil with Zaatar, which goes extremely well with fish, I think, it gives it a nice, fresh taste.
And of course: congrats to the new house, job, and all the best for the baby!

sarah said...

I was just thinking today, what happened to Kano? A very big congratulations on the birth of your baby, especially to your wife who did all the work.
This is the way I often cook fish, I will try it with the addition of warm lentil salad next time. good luck w/ the conference.

Kano said...

thank you very much all and everyone of you for the nice words and the warm wishes. I hope you all try the dish and like it.

leticia said...

Bravo!I'm not making half you do and have no time at all... baking brioche right now, I'd like the flavour could reach you ;-) I have to try your "samak" some moment

Gastro1 said...

Mabrouk on the new arrival !

Food Jihadist said...

Beautiful signature dish. Simple. Elegant. With a taste of Arabia.

Unknown said...

Great recipe! We have lots of Sea Bass here in Japan. Will put our personal chef on it!

Kano said...

I would love to try some home made brioche!

Thank you very much

@Food Jihadist
Thanks for the nice comments here and on twitter

Welcome to my blog. I hope you like this recipe.I had a quick look at your blog and i really liked it. I am sure i will be a regular.

tasteofbeirut said...

Yum! This is a mouthwatering dish and I love the second photo1 I have never tried fish and lentils but after this post I am going to very soon.Congratulations on your baby! Must be very hectic indeed!

Chiara said...

Mabrook on the baby! and the medical conference.

Very timely recipe, as I have been looking for good lentil recipes and the fish is an added bonus.

I need to increase my serum iron and VitB, and might as well do it in a flavourful manner. :)


Kano said...

@tasteofbeirut @chiara

Thank you for the nice words. I hope you enjoy this dish when you try it.

Anonymous said...


Kano said...


Thank you. Please let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

I am trying it now, let you know how it goes. Not too sure how much lemon to add so I will play it by ear and add to taste. What would happen if I put a bit of chopped chili in the salad? I might separate a bit and give it a go. Nice to see lots of warm comments on this site. Kevin Bury St Eds

Kano said...


How did it go? I hope you liked it. Did the chilli work?

DubaiBride said...

Hi Kano, I've been looking at this recipe for over a year now and I never got round to making it.. until last night! I tweaked it around a bit and it was delicious. I rubbed salt, pepper, a little bit of chilli powder, cumin and crushed garlic over the fish before pan frying it. For the salad, instead of putting in raw onions and garlic, I fried the onions and garlic until they were soft in a bit of olive oil and then mixed it with the other salad ingredients.

A wonderful, healthy recipe that leaves you feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

Anonymous said...

I am a Syrian living in UK. I have been here a year now away from such nice Syrian dishes.
I felt so happy when I came across this site and I realy want to say thank you for such great reciepes.
Well done and all the best.
btw, I loved this simple but yammy dish :)

Kano said...


Thank you very much for the kind words. I hope this blog gives you a taste of home.

Hoiada said...

Thanks Kano for reply ..I am the last anonymous :)

Happy Eid enchallah and hope all the best for your family and our beloved Syria...

Today for Eftar I am going to make Abo Basti, couldn't find it here...Looking forward to seeing your way...


Kano said...


And happy Eid to you

Which one is Abo Basti? I know the name but it is not a dish my mum or any one in our family ever cooked.

hoiada said...

hello Kano,

Abo basti ( lamb and pumpkin stew; chick peas+ garlic+ tomato sauce+ dried mint+ lamb + pumpkin)...

hope your family in Syria are all fine...

God bless Syria

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