Samak Mashwi (Grilled Fish with an Egyptian Twist)

Sham el-Nassim is an Egyptian holiday that marks the beginning of spring. Although it always falls on the Monday after Coptic (Egyptian Christian Orthodox) Easter, it's a national holiday that's celebrated by Muslims and Christians alike. Families often pack picnics and celebrate outdoors. Traditionally, a salted and cured fish called fiseekh is eaten with scallions as a symbol of fertility and welfare. It's extremely smelly and most would agree it's an acquired taste. As a more appetizing and fragrant substitution, Kookie marinates whole striped bass and throws them on the grill - skin and all-using a simple Egyptian technique to keep the fish from drying out.

Recipe courtesy of Kamilia Rizk
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 35 min
Prep: 25 min
Inactive Prep: 30 min
Cook: 40 min
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings


  • 2 medium whole striped bass, (about 2.5 lbs), sea bass or red snapper
  • Salt
  • 1/2 lemon
    • 1 medium head garlic
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 bouillon cube
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • Juice of 3 limes
    • Salt and black pepper
    • Special Equipment: Triple fish grilling basket (optional, but this makes it much easier to flip the fish on the grill)
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    Clean the fish by rubbing it with salt and half a lemon, this will reduce the 'fishy' smell. Rinse with water, and pat dry with a clean towel.

    For the marinade: Combine all the ingredients together and pour into a food processor, pulsing just a few times to get it to an even consistency. Set this mixture aside.

    Cut into the belly of the fish, trying to cut it all the way from its neck to its tail. With a spoon, fill the fish with 3/4 of the mixture, making sure you leave the 1/4 of the mixture aside. Close the fish and cut three diagonal slits into the skin, penetrating the flesh. Fill the slits with the remaining rub/marinade. Do this to both sides of the fish. For the best flavor, cover the fish and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. If you're in a rush, you can marinate the fish for a minimum of 30 minutes.

    Take the fish out of the fridge and gently roll in the burghul. This prevents the fish from burning and drying out on the grill. Place sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary directly on top of the fish.
    Place the fish on a hot grill and cook each side on medium high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Use a grilling basket to easily flip the fish and prevent them from sticking to the grill.

    While the fish is on the grill, make the wine sauce: Sautee the garlic cloves in the butter over low heat. Add the bouillon cube and stir until it's completely dissolved. Add the white wine and continue to let sauce simmer for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    As soon as you remove the fish from the grill, pour the hot wine and garlic sauce over the fish. Decorate with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Bel hana well sheffah! (Bon appetite in Arabic)

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