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Raw Salmon Kibbeh Salmon Nayyeh or Nayeh

Raw Salmon Kibbeh

If we can eat raw Salmon or Tuna at the Japanese restaurants, why can’t we have them the Lebanese way as Raw Salmon Kibbeh/ Kibbet Salmon Nayyeh or Nayeh? However, and although the title says raw salmon, in fact, it is not because I use the lemon juice which apart from its flavouring element, its acidity also cooks the fish. Raw Salmon Kibbeh is a spin on the traditional Raw Meat Kibbeh called Kibbeh Nayyeh which is an integral part of the mezza.

For this salmon kibbeh, you need fresh fish not defrosted one. I like the taste of salmon or sea trout, but you can experiment with any fish you like and match it with the appropriate herb. Whatever you go for, it makes a tasty appetiser.

Serves 2-3


  • 150g /5oz skinless & boneless fresh Salmon
  • 1 baby onion finely chopped
  • 30g / 1 1/8 oz fine white burghul(cracked wheat)
  • 3 tbsp Lemon juice or to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill chopped
  • Salt to taste & ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika or if you like it hot ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 20g / ¾oz raw pine nuts (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Equipment: mincer or food processor


  1. Rinse the white burghul then squeeze dry, keep aside.
  2. Chop the salmon, put into a food processor (or mincer) along with the lemon juice and process until finely minced. Add in the chopped onion together with the burghul, seasoning and process to mix all the ingredients to a smooth paste, taste and adjust if necessary. Finally, stir in the dill, process briefly and it is ready.
  3. Transfer the salmon kibbeh onto a serving plate and flatten it. Use a fork to make decorative dentations. Scatter the pine nuts over then trickle a little oil. Serve immediately.
  4. Serving suggestions: Toasted Lebanese bread, or trimmed spring onions go nicely with Raw Salmon Kibbeh.

Kibbet Samak or Fish Kibbeh originates from North Lebanon more specifically Tripoli. It is light and could be used as a healthy light meal or a starter. Simple ingredients such as bulgar wheat/ burghul, fresh coriander and a few spices are mixed with the fish to achieve a well balanced flavour. Importantly, the saffron that is added to the filling makes this dish a colourful and tasty one. On the subject of saffron, I was recently watching a programme about it and was amazed by the varieties which are available worldwide in the market but not necessarily of good quality. Here are two websites which I found informative:

Serves 4


For the kibbeh:

  • 450 g/ 1lb white boneless fish, skin removed, cut into chunky pieces. For the fish, I usually go for Haddock, but you can use any other white fish.
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 100 g/ 4 oz fresh coriander washed, dried and chopped
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 150g/ 5 oz fine brown bulgar wheat or burghul
  • A bowl of slightly salted water

For the filling

  • 3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil + 1 tbsp to drizzle at the end
  • 400 g/ 14 oz onions sliced
  • 65 g/ 2½ oz pine nuts
  • A pinch of saffron strands


  • salt to taste and ground white pepper
  • Ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander

You also need a baking dish, if round one, the diameter would be roughly 25 cm/ 10 inch, rectangular one: 28 x 20 cm/ 11 x 8 inches and 4.5cm/ 1¾ inch depth


  1. Put the burghul in a sieve and rinse it with cold water a couple of times, then squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water. Transfer to a bowl, season with a little salt and keep it aside.
  2. Rinse the fish (skin removed) under cold tap water, pat dry then cut into chunky pieces, transfer into a food processor then blitz once or twice just enough to break up the chunkiness of the fish.
  3. Next, add the remaining ingredients except the burghul and process until combined, season with salt, a ¼ tsp ground white pepper and a pinch of cinnamon. Lastly, mix in the burghul and process again so the mixture will achieve a smooth kibbeh texture. Check seasoning again and adjust if necessary. Transfer to the fridge and let it rest while preparing the filling.
  4. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions until they are just softened. Stir in a pinch of saffron strands and the pine nuts half way through. Season with ¼ tsp white pepper, ½ tsp ground coriander and salt to taste. Leave to cool before assembling.
  5. Lightly grease the baking dish with vegetable oil.
  6. Divide the kibbeh dough in halves. Take the first half and divide it into 4 balls. Spread them within an equal distance from each other in the baking dish. Flatten each ball to about ½ cm / ¼ inch thickness. When necessary, moisten your hands with water and smooth down the kibbeh so in the end, you have one uniform piece that covers the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the filling evenly all over.
  7. For the top part, divide as before the remaining half. Now, because you need to cover the filling it becomes a little trickier. Dampen your hands with the salted water, take each ball and flatten it between your palms to the same thickness as before and lay it on top of the filling. If it is a rectangular or square baking dish, start from one corner, repeat the same process with all of them until you cover the filling including edges. Again, smooth it together so it is uniform.
  8. Cover and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes so that it cuts better, meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F.
  9. With a table knife, mark 4 quarters on the kibbeh. Starting with the first quarter, draw deep geometrical lines to achieve lozenges or square shapes (about 5 cm / 2 inches). Do likewise with the rest, you may need from time to time to moisten the knife with either water or oil. Finally, make a hole in the middle of the baking dish and drizzle the top layer with olive oil and bake until golden brown, roughly 30 minutes.
  10. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Fish kibbeh goes well with a lettuce lemony salad, hommous or with Taratoor/ tahini sauce (see recipe in Sauces).

I think the taste for this dish comes from using fresh fish stock, (not cubes) to which caramelised onions are added which in turn gives it a special aroma. Sayyadiyeh is usually served with a flavoured tahini sauce which I include in the recipe.

For the main dish, you could use any white firm meaty fish such as cod or haddock.


Serves 4.



For the fish stock.


·         450 g/ 1lb fish trimmings including skin and bones

·         Enough tap water to cover the fish about 1 litre/ 2 pints

·         1 medium onion roughly chopped

·         3 sticks of celery washed and roughly chopped

·         2 carrots washed and roughly chopped

·         Large handful of chopped parsley including stems

·         1 bay leaf

·         Salt and pepper


For the dish


·         Vegetable oil

·         500 g/ 1lb 2 oz  Cod or Haddock fillets or any other firm white fish

·         5 medium onions thinly sliced

·         225 g/ 8 oz rice soaked for half an hour before the cooking

·         ½ tsp of each ground cinnamon and ground coriander

·         1 tsp ground cumin   

·         Salt and freshly milled black pepper

·         A pinch of saffron

·         2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)

·         1 lemon quartered


For the hot tahini sauce


·         200 ml/ 7 fl oz tahini paste

·         200 ml/ 7 fl oz lemon juice

·         200 ml/ 7 fl oz water

·         4 fat cloves of garlic peeled

·         1 tsp ground coriander

·         2 green chillies, or more if you like it hotter, very finely chopped

·         3 tbsp fresh coriander chopped

·         Salt

·         1 tbsp olive oil




To make the stock.


1.    Rinse the fish trimmings and bones then put with the other remaining stock ingredients in a large saucepan, cover with water and using high heat, bring to boil. Remove the scum that forms then lower the heat, cover and let it simmer for 45 minutes, checking from time to time. Let it cool slightly before straining and reserving the stock. You need about 500 ml/ 17 fl oz to cook with. You can freeze any excess stock.   


To prepare the main dish.


2.    Rinse the fish under a cold water tap, pat dry with kitchen paper and lay skin down in a buttered oven proof dish. Sprinkle a little lemon juice and brush the fish generously with vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper. Cover and pop it in a 200°C/ 400°F pre-heated oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, then uncover, brush the top with the juices. On a medium to high setting, grill the fish for 3 minutes to give it a crispy texture. Let it cool before flaking it into chunky pieces. Keep warm.

3.     Heat up about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large to medium frying pan, fry the onions until caramelised, they should turn dark brown but not be burnt. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer onto a plate layered with a kitchen paper to drain excess oil. Meanwhile, you can soak the rice.

4.     Add half of the caramelised onion to the stock and bring back to the boil then simmer for about 10 minutes. Fish out the onions with a slotted spoon then liquidise and return to the stock. If at that stage, you find the sauce is too thick, thin it down with water. Now, return the mixture to the heat, season with the spices, taste and adjust if necessary.

5.    Drain the rice then transfer into a medium saucepan, stir in a quarter of the chunky fish then add 500 ml / 17 fl oz of the stock, bring to the boil, cover then let it simmer for about 12-15 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid and cooked. Next, place the remaining cooked fish on top, cover for about 5 minutes before serving.

6.    While the rice is cooking, grease lightly a small frying pan and toast the pine nuts until golden. 

7.    Transfer the rice-fish mixture onto a serving plate, scatter over the caramelised onions followed by the toasted pine nuts and serve at once with wedges of lemon and the Hot Tahini Sauce on the side.


To prepare the Hot Tahini Sauce.


  1. Mix lemon juice with the tahini paste and gradually add the water with ½ tsp of salt, You’ll have a lumpy paste to start, but don’t worry, keep stirring with the spoon until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the sauce has reached a creamy consistency. Taste and adjust if necessary.
  2. Next, sprinkle the garlic with a pinch of salt and ground coriander and crush to a paste.
  3. Heat up the oil in a medium sized saucepan. Stir in the garlic paste along with the fresh coriander and chillies, using a medium heat, cook for 2 minutes then add the tahini sauce, stir the whole mixture to help the flavours to develop. If you notice that the mixture is too thick, you can add some water. When it is about to boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a heat proof jug and serve at once with the main dish.

The squid is cooked in its ink together with bay leaves, orange peel, lemon and lime which gives it a subtle flavour of the sea. It is then served in its inky juice mixture as a cold salad, garnished with parsley, suitable for a spring evening with a glass of chilled arak or white wine. You need a big squid about 550g / 1¼ lb or over, when you buy it, ask the fishmonger to reserve the sac of ink. You can also buy the ink separately in sachets, some fishmongers stock it.


Loligo vulgaris is the most commonly known edible squid, it is native to the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic including the British Isles. However, I noticed that some squids have less ink than others. Therefore, if you want the deep black colour, make sure you have extra ink.


If you want to know more about squids, here are two suggested websites:


Serves 4




·         1 kg / 2¼ lb squid cleaned keeping the sac of ink intact.

·         Enough water to cover the squid

·         3 bay leaves

·         1 orange peel, 1 large lemon quartered, 1 whole lime quartered

·         Salt and freshly milled black pepper

·         Extra virgin olive oil

·         3 cloves of garlic peeled (optional)

·         2 tbsps lemon juice or to taste

·         A generous handful of fresh parsley chopped       




1.      Start cleaning the squid if it hasn’t been done already. Put the squid on a solid area like large cutting board. While holding the body firmly with one hand, carefully remove the head (you will see the eyes) and tentacles with the other hand pulling along with it the guts containing the mucus. The ink sac is attached to the guts. It is very small and you will see the dark ink through the whitish membrane. It is very fragile, cut it off very carefully, but make sure there is something like a saucer underneath (to the catch the juice in case it breaks).  Next, cut off the tentacles from the head, just below the eyes. Throw away the head and other innards. There is inside the ring of tentacles what looks like a hard cartilage umbilicus, if you squeeze the tentacles, this umbilicus-like ring will pop out, pull it off and discard. Now, back to the main body, pull out what feels like a plastic quill in the inside, discard. Next, tear off the fins from both sides of the body and the outer brownish skin should all peel off, discard. Clean and wash the body and tentacles thoroughly with water, to remove any other membrane or guts, and to get rid of any sand or grit.   

2.      Transfer the cleaned squid and tentacles to the pan, pour enough tap water to cover. Prick the ink bag over the pan and stir in 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Give it a good stir, then throw in the bay leaves, orange peel, lemon and lime slices.

3.      Using a high to medium setting, bring the mixture to the boil. Season then cover and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until just tender. Overcooking makes them chewy.

4.      Meanwhile prepare the dressing. Crush (if using) the garlic to a paste, transfer to a deep serving salad bowl and whisk in lemon juice. Remove the squid and tentacles from the inky juice and cut into thick slices, toss into the dressing.

5.      Discard the orange peel, bay leaves, lemon and lime slices. Strain the remaining juice and add it to the squid mixture. Taste, and if necessary, top up with more lemon juice. If you are not eating immediately, cover and keep it in the fridge.

6.      Just before serving, drizzle about 1 tbsp of extra virgin oil and add in the parsley. Serve with Lebanese bread on the side. Crusty bread also goes well.

The combination of fish with tahini sauce makes this dish simply delicious. It is ideal for family and works well as a party dish, but it has to be served hot. You can prepare fish and sauce in advance, keep them separate and do the mixing just before serving. It also freezes well.


Serves  2 – 3 as a main course or 5 – 6 as a starter.




  • 2 pieces of haddock or cod or any meaty white fish (skin on) weighing roughly 300 g / 11 oz washed and pat dried on a kitchen paper
  • 3 large onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil and a little more to brush the fish
  • 2tbsp lemon juice

 For tahini sauce / tarator


  • 2 fat cloves of garlic peeled and crushed to a paste
  • 85 ml /3fl oz  lemon juice
  • 165 ml / 5 ½ fl oz tahini paste
  • 150 – 200 ml /5 – 7fl oz water

For seasoning 


  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper or Paprika
  • A handful of chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • Warm Arabic or Pitta bread to serve

 You also need one medium-sized baking tray and a large frying pan




Preparing tahini sauce


Add about 1 tbsp lemon juice to the crushed garlic and mix. Now, tip the tahini paste into the garlic mixture and gradually stir in alternating between water and the remainder of lemon juice. You’ll have a lumpy paste to start, but don’t worry keep stirring with the spoon until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the sauce has reached a creamy consistency, not too thick (similar to a single cream, see the Sauces Section). Taste and adjust if necessary.


Preparing onion – fish mixture.


  1. Pre-heat the oven 200 ºC / 400 ºF
  2. Switch the hob to a medium setting. Heat up the oil and start frying the onions stirring from time to time, making sure that they are not sticking nor burning. Reduce the setting if necessary. We are looking for very softened onions, deep golden colour but not caramelised. It should take about 30 – 35 minutes.  
  3. Meanwhile prepare the fish. Brush generously with oil, drizzle lemon juice, then season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, wrap loosely in an oiled foil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or more depending on how meaty the fish. Uncover the fish and bake for another 5 minutes then take it out. When it is easy to handle, flake the fish, if necessary remove bones. Keep it on the side.
  4. Once the onions are cooked, add the flaked fish with ½ tsp of cayenne pepper or paprika (if you prefer a milder taste). Mix gently with the onions, the idea is to avoid mincing the fish, and cook for another 3 minutes.
  5. Add the tahini sauce and stir gently. It should take 2-3 minutes for the mixture to bubble and it is then ready.
  6. Transfer to a warm large bowl or to individual ones. Sprinkle cayenne pepper or paprika and add the chopped parsley as garnish. Serve immediately with warm bread.